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Pay-as-you-go cars in the Alamo City

By Angela Covo | 18 de noviembre de 2012

San Antonio.- Earlier this week, the City of San Antonio and the Hertz Corporation announced an expansion of Hertz on Demand, the car sharing program that started in the Alamo City last March, with cars strategically available throughout downtown San Antonio and as far north as Trinity University.

The latest addition to the San Antonio fleet is a 100 percent electric car, the Nissan Leaf, which is clean, super-quiet and a joy to drive. The new car, which is available to every member of the Hertz On Demand program, is a giant leap for transportation technology because anyone who has a driver’s license (and a credit card) can sign up for the program and use any one of the 20 plus cars now. For now, the program only has one all-electric car available, but they may add more as the program grows.

According to the city, the Leaf produces no tailpipe pollution. Considering that the car doesn’t even have a tailpipe, muffler, radiator, fuel pump, transmission, crankcase, alternator or any other elements of a gasoline-powered automobile –I was surprised to find that I felt like I was in a real car as opposed to a souped-up golf cart, and the ride was absolutely luxurious and incredibly quiet for a compact vehicle.

Inside the car, things are a little different than the traditional gas powered vehicle – but it’s very easy to understand quickly and all the instructions are right there.  If you have any concerns or need more help, an in-car concierge is available 24/7 to walk you through the simple steps.

With the expansion, San Antonio continues to be on the cutting edge of being green by facilitating this program that allows people to use cars on an as-needed basis, paying as they go. And we are just the second Texas city to add a fully-electric vehicle to our car sharing program.

In fact, car sharing programs are exploding throughout the U.S. and are proving to be a viable alternative to the increasing cost of owning and operating an automobile for those who live in urban areas. According to an article in Energies, research suggests that every car share vehicle takes about a dozen cars off the road because people find that they don’t need to own one.

Hertz provides an electric vehicle charger at the car’s parking space in the Annex Lot at 500 Dolorosa to “top off” the battery when the car is not being used.  Even the plug used to charge the car is state-of-the-art, only adopted as a standard by the Society of Automotive Engineers in 2010. It will also work with the chargers provided throughout the city by CPS.

Bill Barker, senior management analyst, Sustainable Systems, with the city’s Office of Environmental Policy explains this is a boon to students, residents and guests to the city.

 “We are really excited about this – every car share car takes 12 to 14 cars off the road, college students can sign up for the program for free and it addresses the changing demographics in the city,” he said.

Mark P. Frissora, chairman and chief executive officer of Hertz, agrees.

“We’ve enjoyed a successful partnership with the City of San Antonio, seeing membership and usage continue to grow each month, and we’re pleased to expand Hertz On Demand to make it even more convenient and accessible to residents, visitors and workers throughout the city,” Frissora said.. “Hertz is bringing the future of mobility to city residents with the addition of the Nissan Leaf Electric Vehicle while expanding our overall fleet to more than 20 vehicles and tripling the number of car sharing locations, allowing members to easily select the car they want and go.”

Arnaud Simeray, national sales manager for North America, was on hand for the test drive and to explain details of the program. He also demonstrated how the key fob that registered members get is used to open the car and start the rental.

“The Hertz On Demand pay-as-you-go service has no membership fees or annual fees and provides members with 24/7 access to 23 vehicles in at least 13 locations in the city’s downtown area. Hertz On Demand offers members a range of cars – from compacts, sedans and even SUVs – available both in parking lots and on on-street parking spots,” he explained.

So San Antonio-area residents, city employees and tourists can sign up for free online, reserve cars which can be picked up from one of Hertz On Demand’s several conveniently located hubs, and experience enhanced member benefits offered by Hertz On Demand.

Hertz On Demand has no enrollment fee or annual membership fees, and members can rent by the hour starting as low as $6.50/hour for the Chevy Sonic or Toyota Yaris or even take advantage of daily rates. There are plenty of options to choose from depending on your needs.

Also, all the cars in the fleet are equipped with Eileo technology and rental fee covers everything from gas, insurance, GPS turn-by-turn navigation, 24/7 roadside assistance, 24-hour Member Care Center communication, to 180 free miles per day.

For more information, visit www.HertzOnDemand.com or www.hertz.com.   For more information about San Antonio’s car share program, visit www.sanantonio.gov.


Angela Covo is a reporter for La Prensa de San Antonio.  She may be reached at angela.covo@gmail.com.

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