Hertz To Rent Smart Electric Cars TheDetroitBureau com

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SMART ed cabrio Electric Cars

Hertz To Rent Smart Electric Cars

A Smart Electric Drive cruises New York.

Want to see if you can live with an electric vehicle? Your first step may be to check the fleet at your local Hertz rental office.  The nation’s largest daily rental company is charging into the emerging battery car market, and plans to add the new Smart Electric Drive model to its fleet, starting next week.

Hertz has already signed deals with a variety of other battery car makers, ranging from the start-up Coda to more established manufacturers that include Nissan, General Motors and Toyota.

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Industry experts are divided over the potential market for battery-electric vehicles, especially in the U.S. where so-called “range anxiety” is a factor for buyers used to being able to drive long distances whenever they want.  So, placing products in a rental fleet, like Hertz, can provide a way for potential buyers to try before they buy.

The Smart Electric Drive is a lithium-ion-powered version of the maker’s little fortwo.  Designed as an urban car to begin with, it already targets motorists who are less likely to need extended range capabilities.  On a full charge, the Smart ED can get as much as 84 miles.

  Recharging, using a special 220-volt charger, takes less than eight hours.

The first Smart ED models will be offered in New York City, starting December 15 th .  Hertz will expand the program to Washington, D.C. during the first quarter of 2011, then San Francisco, by mid-year.

Smart, a division of Daimler AG, and a sibling brand of Mercedes-Benz, won’t put the Electric Drive model into the retail market until 2012.

The Smart ED was developed under a partnership between Daimler and the California electric vehicle start-up, Tesla Motors.

Hertz has promised to launch an aggressive campaign providing batter cars to its renters, reflecting the fact that a significant share of customers don’t exceed the range offered by most battery vehicles – typically 70 to about 100 miles per charge.  The company lists potential customers as urban drivers, university students, travelers and corporations.”

Last month, Hertz inked a deal with the new battery-car maker Coda, which will place some of its product into rental use in Southern California. ( Click Here for more.)

Hertz also plans to rent the Nissan Leaf battery-electric vehicle and General Motors’ plug-in hybrid, the Chevrolet Volt.  Toyota will use Hertz to field test a plug-in version of the Prius hybrid, as well as the new Mitsubishi I electric car, which will launch in 2012.

Hertz is seeking out partners who will make charging stations available to battery-car renters.  Those facilities, the firm says, will be listed in Hertz’s onboard navigation system, NeverLost, to make it easy to find a fast charge.


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