Hertz expands electric car rental program to U.S. capital

Rental car company claims role in helping consumers test out electric vehicles, including the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf.

Maybe this will get lawmakers in Washington, D.C., thinking differently about electric vehicles. Rental car company Hertz, through its Global EV initiative, is adding all-electric cars including the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf to the fleet it maintains at the city's Union Station. It is pitching the cars to members of Congress, employees throughout the U.S. capital, and (of course) the general public. You can use the cars are part of the ConnectByHertz program, which facilitates one-way rentals and car-sharing. A different approach to "renting" vehicles for the times when you need one in your local city. Part of the ulterior motive is to get people to test vehicles, which in theory will make them more apt to buy one of their own if and when they are in a market for a car.

ConnectByHertz requires a membership application; there are currently about 30,000 members, across six countries and 54 university campuses. You'll see Hertz continue to add cities (New York City is also up and running). Actually, as of mid-April, the company said it supported the program in more than 100 locations up and down the northeast corridor from Washington up to New York City and into Philadelphia. (Although electric vehicles won't necessarily be in all those locations, at least initially.)

You will notice that Hertz is also adding charging stations, which gets me thinking: What's to stop the company from opening up those stations to vehicle owners who need a "top off." Another potential form of revenue?

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com