What was, at one time, thought to be a myth, the hybrid car has now completely made its way into the driving culture. This means that not only are hybrids, and even electric cars, available to consumers for purchase, but now travelers can rent hybrid vehicles while on the road. But, this is a new option and it leaves many of us unsure of what our options may be, or even how to go about renting a 'green' vehicle.
It does matter where you rent, in this case, because several national car rental companies do not yet offer a specific program for hybrid cars. An additional factor comes into play if you are looking to rent a specific model or type of car, such as the popular Prius, or if you are looking for hybrid with a bit more leg room.
Most of the major metropolitan airports do have at least one existing car rental service that offers hybrid vehicles, including the cities that are popular for vacation travelers, such as Orlando and Tampa. Of course, major business hubs such as Washington, D.C., Chicago and New York all offer these types of cars, but even if you are travelling to a smaller city, it's likely that there will be an option to rent a hybrid car. So how, exactly does one go about renting a hybrid?
Perhaps the most convenient method of shopping for a hybrid rental is the same method most people now use to rent any other type of car; by browsing online. Several vendors offer hybrid-only searches which allow you to sort through the available models and see which cities have what you are looking for. While not all services offer this search, some that don't will allow you to select a hybrid as an option incorporated into their overall existing online search application.
It's also possible to call the car rental service you are interested in, and while some people prefer this method, it seems a little slow in the age of instant online search. However, one step removed is the usage of a travel agent, who can do the legwork for you.
It is important to remember that the national car rental companies are not the only game in town when it comes to alternative fuel vehicles, and that there are car rental companies which specialize in biodiesel and electric cars. These are great for those who really want to use another form of transportation, and as long as the company services the area you intend to visit, then it's no problem. These are also good for travelers who live nearby and want to rent this type of car for a trip. However, the reality is that for most people, this is not a practical option, so their best bet is most likely the car service servicing the airport that they are flying in to.
Midway and Rent4Less are two services that have several locations that offer one or more hybrid models from the airport check-in counter. While it has always been a good idea to reserve a car rental in advance, this is even more true when talking about a hybrid car. Because the rental services at the airport have a smaller inventory on hand of these cars, if you are hoping to get something just when you walk up to the counter, you might be out of luck. There are even agencies that offer hourly electric car rental services but these rentals would obviously not be an effective choice for travelers who need a car for a few days. Plan ahead and you'll be sure to have the car you are looking for when you arrive.