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The pros and cons of renting a hybrid car

Will Chevy's new Volt hit Rental Car Centers?
Will Chevy's new Volt hit Rental Car Centers?
General Motors Media Room

Many green business travelers are finding out the pros and cons of renting a hybrid car. Search for hybrid car rentals on the Internet and almost every major rental car company offers them; or at least they say they do.

Some travelers are finding once they reach the rental car center in Albuquerque where they reserved the hybrid, the vehicle is not available and, in turn, are offered a non-hybrid in its place. How can this be if the reservation was already booked?

According to Mark Ashley of Upgrade: Travel Better, when rental car companies jumped on board by offering hybrids they didn't account for automaker availability and cost. For example for a rental car company to buy a standard sedan at a fleet price, they may pay only $12,000. Fleet prices on hybrids are higher, often double. Rental units are usually taken out of service after one year and the profit to be made on a conventional sedan versus a hybrid as a used car sale is much higher.

Automakers want to make profits as well and have learned they can obtain those profits better by selling hybrids through their dealerships to retail customers. Although fleet accounts, like rental car companies have fleet buying power, the price tags are still more than expected. The challenge to the traveler is actually obtaining a hybrid to rent.

Still,, says it's essential for travelers rent a hybrid and the higher the demand the more units in place. Currently, Enterprise, Hertz, and Avis-Budget have approximately 15,000 hybrid units in service; the largest fleet since 2007.

Expect to pay a little more to rent a hybrid. You have to consider the price tag it came with to the rental car company, however, renting a hybrid has another upside.

If you are considering purchasing a hybrid, renting one is a sure way to find out how it handles and you can check out fuel efficiency, mileage before recharging, and touch and feel all the accessories. Currently, a consumer can purchase a non-hybrid rental car directly from the rental car company once it's taken out of service; so far no hybrids are available for sale. With the massive Toyota recall, that includes the Prius, finding a hybrid rental may be even more challenging.

While there are pros and cons of renting a hybrid car, you can still find them and in doing so, the traveler is making a dent in being environmentally responsible.

If you reserve a hybrid rental, make sure to ask the company if you'll really receive a hybrid upon arrival at the Albuquerque Sunport. Call the rental car company instead of booking a hybrid on the Internet to ensure its waiting for you upon arrival.


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