Enterprise Rent-A-Car Talks Eco Rentals

[Editor’s Note: Mr. Broughton’s comments have been edited for length and clarity.]

Enterprise Rent-A-Car recently announced the first phase of its plans to offer electric vehicles (EVs) rentals in select regions throughout the country. Those regions include Phoenix and Tucson, AZ.; Knoxville and Nashville, TN.; San Diego and Los Angeles, CA.; Seattle, WA. and EarthTechling’s hometown, Portland, OR. The EV roll out begins with the delivery of 500 of Nissan’s highly anticipated Leaf electric cars in January 2011 at its hybrid branches and will continue throughout the year. Enterprise will also be offering customers electric vehicles from other manufacturers as they become available.

Enterprise, as the owner and operator of the world’s largest fleet of internal combustion passenger vehicles, may seem an unlikely candidate for pioneering the green transportation revolution. But Enterprise Holdings–which also owns the Alamo and National brands–seems to be taking this role seriously.  Through its regional subsidiaries, Enterprise already operates the world’s largest fleet of fuel-efficient vehicles, including nearly 7,000 gas/electric hybrid vehicles. The company has adopted initiatives such as its customer carbon offset program; a pledge to plant 50 million trees over the next 50 years; the use of biodiesel fuel in its Alamo, Enterprise and National airport shuttle buses; and a commitment to alternative fuels research. To get a handle on the company’s green agenda, we turned to Lee Broughton, director of sustainability for Enterprise.

Nissan LEAF

image via Nissan

EarthTechling (ET): Enterprise is rolling out the Nissan Leaf across eight different markets nationally. Why is Portland, Oregon, one of them?

Lee Broughton: Portland was selected because it is one of eight selected markets where the infrastructure exists to support the vehicles, and where we’re training employees to show customers how to use and charge the vehicles properly.  Additionally, we are deploying the Nissan LEAF into markets as Nissan rolls out the vehicles to dealers and retail buyers within those markets.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.