Many of today's largest car hire companies are stocking their fleets with fuel-efficient and economical vehicles due to increased consumer demand. The demand for hybrid vehicles tends to lower when fuel prices start to plunge, and resurface again when fuel hits new record highs. Rental companies also experience an increase in demand around areas like airports, where consumers are more likely to hire a car to drive short distances. No matter where fuel prices are hovering, traditional vehicles with a higher efficiency rating tend to stay in high demand.
How Motorists Choose Rentals
Although it's tempting to hire a flashy car for your next holiday, the majority of consumers are a bit more budget-minded. Many motorists take the time to research vehicles before choosing a rental, reading Ford Expedition and Toyota Kluger reviews on motoring.com.au  carefully before an expedition into the Outback, for example. In addition to cargo size and engine power, fuel economy is one of the most important factors to drivers, particularly those on a budget. Consumer Reports found in a 2012 survey that 37% of consumers listed fuel economy as the most important issue to look at when purchasing a new car, and rental trends fall in line with this statistic.
Increasing Green-Friendly Fleets
To meet the heightened demand for fuel efficient rental cars, many global car hire companies are stepping up their hybrid fleets. The major brand Enterprise holds over 1 million cars in its fleet worldwide, over half of which offer over 28 mpg on the highway. Hertz has a smaller global fleet, but it offers five hybrid or electric cars to choose from including the popular Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf. Nearly three quarters of the Hertz fleet also offer a fuel economy exceeding 28 mpg on the highway. Avis is not far behind, with half of its fleet giving consumers a rating of over 30 mpg. Avis also offers 4,100 hybrids out of a total fleet of 150,000.
In addition to offering fuel efficient and hybrid cars, the major rental companies are also focusing on car-sharing services. Brands like Zipcar have been gaining popularity in many cities, where drivers can rent the car by the hour and use it for running errands or taking short trips. These car-sharing services tend to feature vehicles that are small, sporty, and extremely efficient. This makes them particularly popular with college students and urban dwellers who are drawn to the convenience of low rates and green-friendly options. Car-sharing companies can also cater to extremely niche markets. Silvercar, a company founded by a former Zipcar executive, offers a fleet consisting solely of Audis. For drivers who have read an Audi A4 review at motoring.com.au  and want to give it a test drive at a low rate, this could be a great match. Fuel and insurance costs are included within the flat fee, so it's in the business's best interest to choose more efficient vehicles.
As fuel prices continue to climb, it's natural that the demand for fuel-efficient vehicles will continue to follow suit. Expect to see an even higher percentage of car-sharing and rental service fleets sporting green labels in the near future.