Jan 292012

First Electric Hire Cars

The car hire firm that claims to be the greenest in London, Green Tomato Cars, has announced it will introduce its first electric cars to its existing fleet of hybrids and bio-fuelled vehicles. This move will make the agency the first private car hire firm in the English capital to offer electric vehicles.

Renault Fluence ZE

Green Tomato Cars is set to introduce two Renault Fluence ZE vehicles to its fleet, a car that is not set to be unveiled in the UK until the autumn. This electric car has already been launched in Israel and France, and plans to hit further markets later this year.

Renault Fluence ZE - Electric Hire Car

Renault Fluence ZE - Electric Hire Car

Renault has slowly released details about its forthcoming all-electric vehicle since it first announced the Fluence ZE at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2009. It is fitted with a 22 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery with a range of 99 miles on one standard charge and a top speed of 84 miles per hour. Compared to your average electric vehicle, Renault’s new offering is bulkier and more like a standard sedan, but with sleek edges and a sporty feel.

Although Renault’s new battery production facility near Paris has been delayed, roll out of the Fluence ZE has remained on track. Until the plant is completed in 2014 or 2015, the French automaker will purchase batteries from a joint venture between Japanese firms Nissan and NEC, and from LG Chem of South Korea.

Renault plan to maximise battery use

In terms of how Renault plans to maximise battery use, it has some innovative ideas. Aside from the standard home charge, which takes between 6 and 8 hours, and fast-charging stations which take just 30 minutes, it will also enable a battery swap program. Dubbed ‘QuickDrop’, this program allows a driver to exchange a depleted battery for a fully charged one at a dedicated facility. This will make refueling as fast as putting diesel or petrol into a tank at a petrol station. These dedicated facilities still have to be set up, just like recharging stations, but it’s an innovative idea that again helps to reduce the time needed to get an electric vehicle rolling once the battery is dead.

Leader of Eco cars

Green Tomato Cars, a company that has marketed itself as a leader in delivering eco cars for hire in London, is making a giant leap towards greener motoring. The firm already has a fleet of 200 hybrid and bio-fuel cars, including a number of Toyota Prius. The company says it offsets its emissions by planting trees and engaging in other energy-saving practices, including buying office equipment from environmentally-friendly sources, in a bid to become the first truly green car hire company in the UK.

Toyota Prius - Plug in Hybrid Eco Car

Toyota Prius - Plug in Hybrid Eco Car

In terms of price, Green Tomato Cars claims to offer its vehicles at the market rate, or lower in some cases. Many car hire companies have been reluctant to offer hybrid vehicles and other green cars because of the cost. Put simply, buyers of green vehicles usually pay more upfront but hope to reduce running costs because fuel efficiency is much greater compared to diesel and petrol vehicles. But because car hire companies usually leave fuel costs to the customer, this advantage is lost, except in terms of car tax, which is lower. But with the Fluence ZE, Green Tomato Cars is taking its business model another step forward.

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