Eco-Advantage Blog

November 24, 2006 | Andrew Winston | Jump to: Comments (0) | Post A Comment

Hertz Attempts to Go Green (Sort of)

For Thanksgiving week, a post about travel. I was online booking some flights (still enjoying the Terrapass option on Expedia — see previous post here), and some rental cars. I had read that Hertz began offering cars in a “Green Collection,” a parallel to some other offerings, including the “Fun Collection” with convertibles and such. So here was a great chance to send my business to a green company.

I went to rent a car at the San Francisco Airport, a place that you’d think would have the most eco-options. And I was happy to see “Green Collection” in the pull-down menu of vehicle options with compact, midsize, SUV, etc, etc. I looked forward to my selection of a Prius or Civic hybrid, or small economy non-hybrid getting 40 mpg. But instead I was given one “green” option, a Toyota Camry…no, not the hybrid Camry, but a regular one. Huh.

Digging further, I discovered that Hertz’ definition of “green” is not particularly impressive. They’ve selected four cars (which I believe were in their fleet already) that get over 28 mpg on the highway (and less in the city). None of them are hybrids. I won’t rant as an environmentally aware customer, but just focus on the green business problems here.

Hertz is treading on dangerous ground with this attempt to play the green card in the marketplace. It may have worked years ago, but customers, particularly those interested in this offering, are smarter about environmental issues, especially having to do with cars. Another blog on this issue puts it simply, “Hertz insults our environmental intelligence with their “Green” collection”. This sentiment will not be a lone voice — the company will continue to face cries of greenwashing, a result that totally demolishes the benefit of any eco-strategy.

It’s worth repeating a point made repeatedly in Green to Gold: Don’t make a claim if you can’t back it up. The idea was great. Hertz was very smart in identifying a real market need, and clever in branding it as a “collection.” But the execution needs some work: one odd moment — i looked at all the cars available at the SF airport and a “Prius or similar” was listed, but not as a “green” option. More importantly, Hertz needs to broaden and deepen its commitment here (buying a fleet of hybrids would be a good start) and really jump in with both feet. So far, Hertz has only dipped its toe in what turns out to be some pretty shallow waters.


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