Not long ago, another chorus of "99 Bottles of Beer" was the main downside of the family road trip. But with gas prices being what they...
Not long ago, another chorus of “99 Bottles of Beer” was the main downside of the family road trip.
But with gas prices being what they are, vacation funds can easily be burned up long before you get to the first rest stop — not to mention the toll you’re taking on the environment. There’s another way: eco-rentals.
Many families are parking their SUVs and choosing to drive more fuel-efficient cars on road trips, said Michael Marsden, a professor at Wisconsin’s St. Norbert College who specializes in automotive culture.
“People used to have a monogamous relationship with their family car, but today they’re having serial relationships and are getting rentals for all kind of reasons and purposes,” he said. “Getting a car that’s more efficient than their own for a long trip is definitely one reason people are renting.”
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Major chains like Enterprise, Budget and Avis are now offering hybrids. For more local options, here are some fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly car rental options in cities around the world:
Bio-Beetle Eco Rental Cars, www.bio-beetle.com/
Where: Maui and Los Angeles
Cost per week: $229 to $349 in Maui, $199 to $249 in LA
Pam Miedtke-Wolf and Shaun Stenshol rent out two dozen bio-diesel vehicles current locations, and are planning a second Hawaii location and a shop in Austin, Texas. Their cars, mostly Volkswagen makes, get at least 35 miles to the gallon, and can be filled up for about $3 a gallon at locations that sell bio-diesel made from renewable resources like fish oil and recycled fryer oil. When you return your eco-friendly wheels, they’ll be scrubbed down with only the most organic of cleansers, naturally.
Western Road Trips, www.westernroadtrips.com/ Where: Salt Lake City
Cost per day: $49 to $119
This small company run by two local rock climbers features two hybrids and three Eurovan Westfalia Weekenders. Company co-founder Pete Van Slooten says he’ll meet you at the airport or hotel. Other perks: In Salt Lake City, driving a hybrid means you won’t be required to put money in parking meters, and single drivers can take the car pool lane.
Electric Time Car Rentals, www.etcars.com/ Where: San Francisco
Cost per day: $164 to $208
You might spend more in one day on these rentals then you’d spend on fueling your SUV for a week, but Electric Time Car rentals are nevertheless quite appealing to environmentally conscious San Francisco day-trippers. The company has fifteen golf cart-style Global Electric Motorcars, which can fit up to four people. Pro: There are no doors, making sightseeing extra fun. Con: Um, there are no doors.
Ozocar, www.ozocar.com/ Where: New York City
Cost per hour: $50
Back in 2002, former Virgin records chairman Jordan Harris launched a campaign encouraging celebrities to take electric and hybrid cars to the Oscars. Harris and his partners now run a high-end green taxi service. Their chauffeured hybrid Toyotas and Lexuses are not only wired with wireless, satellite radio and GPS, but many even have a laptop in the back seat for passenger use.
Electric Car Hire, www.electriccarhire.com/ Where: London
Cost per week: About $350
Lucky Londoners — they also have the option of traveling the town in Sakura Maranello4s, electric cars that can go up to 62 miles an hour and can be re-charged gratis at any number of parking lots around the city. One major perk: electric cars don’t get charged the $16.50 daily congestion charge that normally applies when driving in many parts of central London.
Green Tomato Cars, www.greentomatocars.com/ Where: London
Cost per ride: About $75 between Heathrow airport and West London; full-day chauffeur service for about $60 an hour.
“We’re ripening!” says Jonny Goldstone, co-founder of GreenTomatoCars in London (where they call them toe-MAH-toes). The year-old taxi service includes fifty chauffeured Toyota Prius hybrids and actually costs less than more traditional cab options in the city. The company goes through ClimateCare.org to plant trees offsetting every ton of emitted CO2 they produce.