Florida tourism bosses trialing electric rental car program

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Florida tourism bosses trialing electric rental car program

Many savvy tourists know that staying in serviced apartments and short term rental units is a great way to save money without compromising on quality during vacations. For many of these tourists, renting a car is a necessary evil when traveling, and compared to finding suitable accommodations, their options are often limited. However, tourism officials in Florida are keen to see whether travelers visiting the Sunshine State are willing to drive electric vehicles. According to the Orlando Sentinel, hotels and car rental agencies in Florida have teamed up to offer guests an alternative to gas-guzzling sedans and SUVs during their trip.

Sparking interest
The news source reported that Drive Electric Orlando is a new promotional campaign designed to encourage visitors to the city to drive electric vehicles instead of renting conventional cars. A number of rental agencies in Orlando are now offering the vehicles through the initiative, and several hotels in the area have jumped on the bandwagon by installing electric car recharging stations at their properties.

However, while the move is good news for the environment, some critics say the scheme is a thinly-veiled plan by hotels to boost flagging occupancy rates. Nationwide advocacy groups for electric vehicles admit that the plan is also intended to encourage people to make the switch following their rental experiences.

"There's still a ton of misperceptions out there among drivers about these vehicles," Sam Ori, executive vice president for the Electrification Coalition, told the news source. Ultimately, the plan is seen as a way to offer tourists an extended test drive and "turn those people into future buyers."

A statewide approach
According to the Orlando Business Journal, a number of popular theme parks and resorts across Orlando will also be participating in the program to make it more appealing to visitors.

The vehicles that will be available as part of the initiative will be the Nissan Leaf, a rival to Toyota's long-dominant Prius. These models can save motorists significant amounts of money on fuel, as much of the car's power can be sourced from an electrical charge instead of a typical combustion engine. If tourists plan to drive around town, they may not even need to visit a gas station at all, unless they intend to hit the highway.

There is little doubt that hybrid vehicles are good for the environment, but whether they'll be equally as beneficial to Orlando's hospitality sector remains to be seen.