Washington D.C. Airport Offering More Green Car Rental Options

Washington D.C. Airport Offering More Green Car Rental Options

Four firms land Dulles contracts to provide alternative energy vehicles

If a recent series of contracts granted to car rental firms at Dulles International Airport in Washington D.C. are any indication, alternative energy vehicle leasing will be more prominent in the future. That said, the time horizon regarding when these autos will dominate the transportation landscape will likely be longer than expected.

Enterprise Holdings, which also owns rental companies Enterprise, Alamo and National, was one of four major players landing new contracts with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority for office and lot space at Dulles. Avis, Hertz and Sixt were the other three. But provisions of the contracts stipulated that the winning bidders follow a “green-vehicle” clause requiring companies to include either electric or hybrid cars in their fleets during the second and third years of their agreements. The remaining period of the seven-year contracts would see the number of green vehicles to three percent.

The Authority may have been pleased about the $125.7-million deal with the four car rental companies, except for one thing: They had hoped that the percentage of green vehicles would be higher. The initial agreement called for at least five percent of the fleet being more environmentally friendly by the end of the second year. That figure was initially projected to rise up to 20 percent after five years.

“At the start of this process we knew the original requirements were high, but needed industry feedback before settling on an aggressive, yet reasonably achievable, requirement,” said airport spokesperson Athena Hernandez to Inside Nova.

It’s a puzzling scenario since Enterprise doubled its green fleet size in 2018, ordering roughly 2,000 electric and hybrid vehicles, while its competitors added models like the Nissan Leaf, the BMW i8, the Tesla Model S and the Ford Fusion. But their selection is limited to what’s coming off the line, especially with the auto industry experiencing a slowdown at the beginning of 2019, especially with sedans experiencing a steady drop in demand. 

Electric vehicles and hybrids are also caught up in the slowdown globally, except in Norway, where the government places high taxes on vehicular effluence. And the subsidies that helped propel the green car market in places like China, the U.K. and the U.S. may soon be on the way out as governments in those countries announced they’ll axe those financial incentives. 

To environmentally-conscious travelers hoping to grab a green vehicle next time they touch down in Washington D.C. or elsewhere, to take liberties with a Kermit the Frog quote, it’s not going to be easy being green.

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