Enterprise to offer Chevy Volt in California, probably ding you for bringing it back half-charged

Not one to be one-upped by Hertz -- which already announced a plug-in rental program that'll include the almighty Tesla Roadster and the diminutive Smart Fortwo -- Enterprise Rent-A-Car has just announced that it'll be the first to offer Chevrolet's Volt later in the month. The company's Mark Christopher Auto Center in Ontario, California will have an undisclosed amount in stock for daily and weekly rentals, and it sounds as if it'll be grappling for more just as soon as they roll off of the production line. For those who can't quite make it down to the desert, Enterprise will be offering 500 Nissan Leaf vehicles nationwide, with charging stations already installed in Los Angeles, San Diego and Santa Monica. No word on what type of fee you'll be hit with when you bring it back with only 20 percent of the batteries charged, but you can rest assured the bigwigs at Enterprise are already thinking about it.

Update: Good news, everyone! Enterprise replied to us, and it won't be charging customers for bringing EVs back with less than a full charge. Huzzah!

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Enterprise Rent-A-Car To Offer Chevrolet Volt
Enterprise Continues to Provide Opportunities to Test Drive New EV Technology

Jan. 6, 2011 (St. Louis)– Enterprise Rent-A-Car announced today that it will be the first to offer Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicles (EVs) for daily and weekly rentals later this month. The Volt vehicles – the "2011 Motor Trend Car of the Year®" – will be available at the Mark Christopher Auto Center in Ontario, Calif., along with a new charging station.

There are more than 5,000 Enterprise Rent-A-Car neighborhood and airport offices, including the Mark Christopher Auto Center site, located within 15 miles of 90 percent of the U.S. population. As Enterprise Rent-A-Car continues to add EVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles throughout its network, more customers will have an opportunity to try the new technology for consideration of purchase, out of curiosity, or to choose an environmentally friendly car rental option. It also gives customers a chance to learn more about the charging process.

"Purchase demand for electric vehicles has been impressive, and we anticipate similar demand from rental customers," said Jeff Morrell, vice president of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. "Making the Volt available will provide an extended test drive for curious customers, for those with cars being serviced and for those interested in possibly purchasing an EV."

Additional EVs will be offered at other Enterprise locations as manufacturers make them available. For example, 500 Nissan LEAFs will be available at select Enterprise locations nationwide, and on-site charging stations will be installed to support the vehicles. Charging stations already have been installed at Enterprise offices in Los Angeles, San Diego and Santa Monica, Calif.

EVs can be charged using a standard 110-volt home outlet, or a 220-volt home or public charger, or 480-volt commercial "fast" charging station. Most EVs can travel about 100 miles on a single charge, accommodating the travel habits of the daily commuter, who drives an average of approximately 40 miles a day. However, an extended-range EV like the Volt can travel further due to an on-board gas-powered generator.

"By embracing new, clean fuel and engine technologies like electric vehicles, Enterprise can help the passenger vehicle remain relevant by giving alternatives a chance to become commercially successful," said Lee Broughton, director of sustainability for Enterprise Holdings, which owns and operates Enterprise Rent-A-Car, along with the Alamo Rent A Car and National Car Rental brands.

"We're committed to using our fleet and industry-leading network as a sort of 'petri dish' to promote new alternatives and prove their feasibility in the marketplace," Broughton noted.

The introduction of EVs to the Enterprise Holdings fleet is just one facet of the industry's most comprehensive environmental sustainability platform, and a part of the company's broader, long-term strategy to embrace alternative technologies and bring viable solutions to the marketplace. With annual revenues of $12.6 billion and more than 68,000 employees, Enterprise Holdings owns and operates, through its regional subsidiaries, more than 1 million cars and trucks, making it the largest car rental company in the world measured by revenue, employees and fleet. Enterprise Holdings is ranked No. 17 on the Forbes "Top 500 Private Companies in America" list.

"Our partnership with Enterprise is all about providing the best possible service," said Chris Leggio, president of Mark Christopher Auto Center. "The Volt incorporates brand-new vehicle technology. So, as our customers become familiar with the vehicles, we're excited that Enterprise can offer the Volt for rental, providing a seamless and convenient customer service experience at our facility."