Automobiles

Hertz to rent electric cars and bikes from £4 per hour

Hertz has added electric cars, such as the Mitsubishi iMiev and Nissan Leaf to its rental fleet, with electric bikes available too on hourly and daily rates.

Hertz has added electric cars and bikes to its rental fleet. The cars, which will be part of the company's Connect pay as you go car rental club, are being aimed at customers who want to reduce their tailpipe emissions on short journeys. And hippies.

At present only the Mitsubishi iMiev is available for hire. Hertz will shortly add the Nissan Leaf, however, as well as a range of electric cars from Renault as they become available. The company also has a range of electric bicycles, provided by Ultra Motor, available for hire.

Hiring the vehicles is relatively straightforward. You can sign up free to the Connect car club, where you'll be issued an RFID membership card. You can then use the Hertz Connect iPhone app or website to search for and book available cars. Once a car is booked, it can be unlocked using the membership card, much like Streetcar. The keys are kept in the glove compartment.

Hertz's rental pricing structure is very reasonable, we think. Electric cars cost a mere £4 per hour to hire, with 24-hour rental costing £40. Oddly, the bikes are slightly more costly to rent by the hour. They'll set you back £5 per hour, though a day's rental will cost just £20.

The scheme isn't without its potential problems, however. A Mitsubishi iMiev can take up to 7 hours to fully recharge, meaning cars with depleted batteries won't always be available for hire. Hertz has built in buffer periods between each rental that will give the cars enough time to recharge to a usable level.

Connect customers can, however, recharge the cars as required. They'll have free access to 16 charging stations, each with two plug points, at London City Airport, Heathrow Airport, Russell Square, Marble Arch, Old Kent Road and Uxbridge.

In future, Connect customers will also have access to a host of Source London charging points, which are being rolled out across the Big Smoke between now and 2013, as part of mayor madhair's Boris' plans for London to become the electric car capital of Europe.

Crave very much welcomes this news, going so far as to give it a high five and crack open a beer. The selection and quantity of cars is questionable at this early stage, and you won't always be able to hire a car or bike due to the speed at which they recharge, but it gives electric car sceptics a chance to try these vehicles for themselves for relatively little outlay.