Survey Finds Car Renters Want Hybrid Options

With yesterday's Earth Day commemoration in mind, recently surveyed its rental car customers and found that a significant majority (72%) want rental car firms to offer "green" cars in their fleets.

That is, the customers want the option of being able to rent economical, environmentally friendly hybrid vehicles, which are powered by a mix of gasoline and electricity.

A similar majority (71%) of the 764 customers surveyed replied that they would definitely rent a hybrid--and almost half (48%) said they would be willing to pay a premium for their "green" rental.

Presently, rental companies don't make hybrid vehicles available in their fleets--but most of the customers surveyed (39%) said they would be willing to pay up to $1 to $3 more a day to rent a hybrid. That would result in an increase of up to 11% over the average weekend price currently published on ($26 a day) for a mid-size car. It would also represent a boost of up to 17% over the average successful offer price for's "Name Your Own Price" program--$17 a day--also for a mid-size.



This could be welcome news for rental car companies because "it indicates that the addition of a hybrid car to their fleets might become a source of incremental revenue," says Brian Ek,'s spokesman.

Digging deeper into the survey numbers, 8% would be willing to pay up to $4 to $6 more a day for a hybrid, and 1% would be willing to pay up to $7 to $10 a day more. None of the respondents were willing to pay more than $10 a day extra, and 53% said a hybrid was not important enough to them that they were willing to pay any premium to rent one.

The escalating price of gasoline impacted some of the survey replies:

  • If gasoline reaches $3 a gallon, almost half (47%) of the respondents said they will choose smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.

  • 55% said they prefer to rent more fuel-efficient cars like the mid-size Pontiac Grand Am, the compact Ford Focus or the econo-line Chevrolet Metro.

  • 96% said they topped off the rental-car fuel tanks themselves to avoid paying refill fees.

  • 52% said they seek out the cheapest gas in an area before filling up the tank before returning the car.
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