With gas over two dollars a gallon, I have noticed an almost Pavlovian desire, no doubt originating from my 1970's childhood, to explore all-things energy-efficient. If you are experiencing the same and have to travel for business, here is a nifty idea for killing to birds with one stone. Try renting an environmental vehicle.

EV Rental Cars www.evrental.com (877.387.3682) is the first and only rental company in the United States to rent strictly environmentally friendly vehicles. You will find EV Rental at nine Budget Rent-A-Car locations in Arizona, California, Nevada and Virginia. EV Rental Cars has a partnership with Budget in which Budget provides counter facilities and agents for customer rental services. Rental services, procedures, and charges are, in most cases, the same as Budget's. In addition, EV Rental Car customers may participate in Budget express service and loyalty programs.

Airport locations are Burbank (CA), Los Angeles (CA), Ontario (CA), Palm Springs (NV), Phoenix (AZ), San Diego (CA), Dulles (VA) and National (VA). You will also find EV vehicles at the Budget location at the Union Station train station in Washington, DC.

Most cars rent for between $35 and $45 per day.

EV rents two types of environmental vehicles--hybrid gas/electric and natural gas.

Hybrid gas/electric:
Gas mileage for hybrid vehicles is up to 700 miles per tank of gasoline, or about 55-60 miles per gallon. Hybrids do not require charging from an outside source because the battery pack recharges automatically. EV's midsize hybrid vehicle is a Honda Civic, and its full-size vehicle is a Toyota Prius. EV's two-occupant vehicle is the Honda Insight. The company will be introducing the 2005 Ford Escape which is a mini-SUV this fall.

Natural gas:
Gas mileage for natural gas is equivalent to 30 miles per gallon; however, natural gas is much cheaper than gasoline. There are more than 200 natural gas refueling stations in Arizona, California and Nevada. (Go online at www.cleancarmaps.com to get a list.) EV's midsize (four-passenger) natural gas vehicle is a Honda Civic GX.

Additional benefits to renting a natural gas vehicle--not only can you return the vehicle empty at no additional charge but these vehicles are eligible to travel in the car pool lanes with only one person. This is a big plus in southern California.

The company also sells used vehicles, primarily the 2003 Honda Civic.

Content is extracted from the Business Travel Almanac (ISBN 0-7897-2934-2, $19.99 USD, Que Publishing) with permission from Pearson Education.

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Published on: Nov 1, 2004