Rental car companies add green machines

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Hertz and Avis are placing bets on hybrids, cars with combination gas-and-electric engines that dramatically increase fuel efficiency and decrease greenhouse gases.

Hertz will add 3,400 Toyota Prius hybrid cars to its rental fleet by the end of 2008. The cars will be available at 50 major U.S. airports, including Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. By July, the first batch of roughly 1,000 Prius rentals will be mostly at airport locations in New York City, Chicago, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Orlando, Miami, West Palm Beach, and Atlanta. Rates are slated to start at $50 per weekend day--about $10 less than renting a mid-size SUV, such as a Ford Escape, in July.

Avis Budget Group Inc. also plans to start rolling out 1,000 Toyota Prius vehicles over the next few weeks at Avis locations in California, Portland, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Although prices will vary according to the season and location, rates should be about $70 per day, similar to what you would pay to rent a standard SUV, such as a Chevrolet Trailblazer, in July.

Earlier: Hybrid-friendly hotels.

Related: Car rental advice.

Elsewhere: America's Best Green Hotels. [HotelChatter]

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