Regardless of what you drive at home, renting an eco-friendly car while traveling is a great way to travel green. These days, many rental car companies are making significant efforts to add hybrids, electric cars, and other fuel-efficient vehicles to their fleets. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, you’ll appreciate these tips for a green car rental.
1. Look for SmartWay Certified Vehicles
The EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide scores vehicles on a scale of 1 to 10 based on air pollution and greenhouse gas emission. The vehicles that receive a better than average score in both are designated as SmartWay certified. So, in comparison to the other vehicles on the market, these are the most environmentally friendly vehicles. SmartWay Elite status is given to the vehicles that get the highest scores in both categories.
All SmartWay certified vehicles are listed in the EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide. Before you rent, you can check to see how your rental car ranks. Many rental car companies will let you know which cars in their fleet have this EPA certification, making choosing a green rental car even easier!
2. Go Small
Between the extra legroom and the added truck space, it can be tempting to go for that upgrade at the car rental counter. But resist if you can. Smaller cars are typically much more fuel-efficient, making them more environmentally friendly. In fact, 100% of the cars in Budget’s economy, compact, and intermediate categories are SmartWay certified. Plus, you’ll save money on the rental fee and at the pump!
3. Book Early for Hybrids
Most large car rental companies in the United States (like Avis) now offer hybrids. But it’s best to book early since they’re considered specialty vehicles. The downside is that the actual car rental is more expensive, but the gas savings can help make up for the difference in price.
A few years ago, it was difficult fo find companies to that offered hybrids. Thankfully, now you can search for “green cars” on sites like Travelocity, which makes it easier to find a hybrid rental — especially when you book early!
4. Find a Rental Car Company that Specializes in Eco-Friendly Cars
A few rental car companies that specialize in renting eco-friendly cars are starting to pop up around the country. eQocar in Burbank, California rents only hybrid vehicles. They have an impressive range of compact cars, luxury vehicles, and even SUVs. Bio-Beetle in Maui, Hawaii offers cars that use bio-diesel. Their most popular car is a Volkswagen Beetle. Traveling to Key West? Check out Conch Electric Cars for a selection of electric cars for sightseeing in the Florida Keys. Green car rental is easy when you find a company that specializes in it.
5. Join Zipcar
Zipcar is a car-sharing program in bigger cities and on college campuses across the North America and the UK. My husband and I joined in Boston and we’re able to rent cars by the hour when we need them. If you live in a city that has Zipcar, it’s a great alternative to owning a vehicle.
While Zipcar is not necessarily an option while traveling since it only works in the city where you live, it can be a great option if you need to rent a car for a staycation or a day trip. Zipcar offers a variety of hybrid vehicles to choose from.
6. Skip the Rental Car
If you were thinking about renting a car this summer, you might find that if you look over the itinerary you really don’t need to after all. Many cities offer effective public transportation and walking is a great way to explore a new area.
Have you rented an eco-friendly car on vacation? What are your tips for a green car rental?
Photo credit: Beige Alert