Hertz Launches Electric Car Rentals

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Hertz jumped into the electric car game yesterday, announcing that electric vehicles will soon be available to customers in select cities.

The cars will initially be available in New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, starting with New York on Dec. 15. However, getting the cars won’t be a simple matter of booking one at the Hertz desk the next time you’re traveling to one of these cities. For now, the electric vehicles are only available to members of Connect by Hertz, a car-sharing service similar to Zipcar. According to a Hertz spokesperson, the cars will join Hertz’s regular rental fleet in 2011.

Zipcar, which operates in 67 cities, already offers plug-in hybrid cars as part of its San Francisco fleet. But Hertz’s smaller Connect service appears to have one-upped the industry leader by offering fully electric cars like the Tesla Roadster and Nissan LEAF. While the cars will initially only be available in three cities, the company says it plans a wider rollout in 2011. Connect currently operates in 24 states in the U.S. and has locations in Canada, France, Germany, Spain and the U.K.

If you want to ride the wave of the future and don’t want to buy your own set of wheels, you’ll have to sign up for a Connect membership at ConnectByHertz.com and put your name in at HertzEV.com for a shot at one of the cars.

Anyone who signs up at HertzEV.com between now and Christmas will also get a free year’s membership to Hertz Connect (via a coupon code that will be sent out in a few weeks), which normally costs $50. A company spokesperson tells MainStreet that no other purchase or commitment is necessary, so even if you aren’t completely jazzed about electric cars, it couldn’t hurt to sign up and get a free membership.

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