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The New Greener Car Hire Industry

Mar 2, 2008
Car hire companies have often been accused of being one of the most environmentally unfriendly industries on the planet. Granted the emissions caused by the aeronautical industry are far worse but car hire companies have often been blamed for encouraging people to travel individually and neglect the use of public transport. This however is beginning to change with many car hire firms realising a potential business opportunity in providing services to eco-friendly customers.

Cleaner eco-friendly services are becoming increasing profitable as people are becoming more environmentally aware. Consumers are now wishing to do business with companies that are conscious of the effect they have on the environment. The question for the car hire industry is whether customer's environmental conscience will actually lead them to pay more for car rental.

There are a number of ways in which car hire companies are able to offset the effect they have on the environment. One of these methods is to provide customers with a fleet of hybrid vehicles available for hire. These hybrid electric vehicles run on a mixture of regular fuel types and electricity and can be seen as a happy medium for long distance travelling. For those who wish to hire this type of car for long journeys they have the added bonus of possessing lower fuel consumption levels.

There are also car hire companies who instead of utilising the latest hybrid technologies have opted to use bio fuels. The natural fuel is a lot like vegetable oil and reduces emissions greatly. This once again is a cheaper alternative to travellers with an environmental conscience and while at the moment these are only small schemes, as more people are realising we must do something about the environment, they are bound to become more widespread.

These types of schemes have expanded from the car hire sphere and entered the van and truck rental industry. While low emission trucks are slowly becoming available it is the purchasing of carbon credits that is acting as an incentive to eco-friendly customers. Widely known as carbon offsetting; put simply it means the company put money into environmentally friendly plans for any money made. The ultimate of this is to create a company that has become carbon neutral; meaning that all the emissions caused by their fleet are offset through schemes that actively reduce emissions worldwide.

It is not just through fleet changes and carbon offsetting however that car hire companies are doing their bit for the environment. Some companies have ensured their operational efficiencies are doing as little damage as possible to the environment. Schemes such as office recycling and car sharing are all a part of this and actively work to creating an environmentally friendly ethic within the industry.

The way companies are cleaning their fleets is also changing. A number of car hire companies have stopped using pesticides and toxic cleaners when washing their cars. Using natural soaps such as vinegar and baking soda are becoming an increasingly popular option. Added to this the use of recycled paper in printers and the widespread use of solar power is also hoped to become increasingly utilised.

Unfortunately using these new technologies is expensive for a car hire company which is probably why the schemes have not become widespread yet. The cost of buying and maintaining a fleet of hybrid or special fuel vehicles is more than the cost of a fleet of regular cars. Some of these costs however can be offset by government grants to environmentally conscious companies.

Although it is mostly smaller niche companies who are currently pursuing this course of action the major players in the car hire industry are becoming increasingly interested. Many have begun to add hybrid and special fuelled cars to their fleets in order to cater for the greater numbers of those requesting these services. At the moment these small changes in the make up of fleets is only a drop in the ocean.

It is however a good sign; the only way in which the industry as a whole will sit up and listen to environmental concerns if more people request these services. As the world's conscience seems to be growing, the amount of these services available will undoubtedly increase.
About the Author
Industry expert Thomas Pretty looks into the increasing green approach of car hire companies. To find out more please visit http://www.budget.co.uk/
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