Jun 20, 2007 (From the CalCars-News archive)
We think the second most important aspect of the RechargeIT announcement (after the broad program itself) is the Google Fleet partnership with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Overnight these two companies have now become the largest PHEV fleet customer -- and the first non-utility private-sector customer. Below is our informal transcript of launch event remarks by Greg Stubblefield, President of California and Hawaii Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
FIRST, OUR COMMENTS
Enterprise (the largest rental car company in North America) saying "we would be a buyer for these vehicles" complements Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation (the nation's number one dealer of new and used cars), saying "we look forward to selling" PHEVs http://www.calcars.org/calcars-news/545.html. Here are authoritative and unequivocal messages to carmakers: "You build them, we'll buy them." In the case of G-Fleet, it's also, "Oh, and until you build them, they're so important to us that we'll pay extra to those who can help us get started."
Google picked well in choosing Enterprise: the company has already been favoring high-mileage cars and it has 3,000 hybrids. It's donated $35M to create a research institute for renewable fuels http://www.greencarcongress.com/2007/02/danforth_center.html. And it helps that this 50-year-old private company is not afraid to be innovative: Enterprise explicitly sees G-Fleet as a model for programs with other companies.
Equally important, looking toward future markets for PHEVs and EVs, Enterprise's base is mainly customers who need cars for their daily commutes because of accidents, repairs or theft, or for short leisure or business trips. So their cars' driving patterns match the profile of the PHEV!
Enterprise agrees that being advocates for PHEVs shouldn't preclude trying to reduce car ownership and use. Stubblefield situates the "G-Fleet" within Google's policy to encourage its employees to use mass transit and bikes. (Along with the great food, the comfortable wireless-enabled vans are cited by many Googlers as unparalleled perks.) These cars will be available not only to those who work full-time at the Googleplex but also to visiting employees who may stay at nearby hotels. For both populations, like the Bay Area's CityCarShare and the national Zipcar and Flexcar programs that provide mobility options without the burdens of car ownership, G-Fleet becomes "personal public transit."
GREG STUBBLEFIELD, PRESIDENT
CALIFORNIA AND HAWAII ENTERPRISE RENT-A-CAR.
On behalf of all the men and women at Enterprise, we are very proud to be involved with Google and the other partners in this innovative car-sharing initiative. It's actually innovative on several different levels. We know Californians in particular want to do something tangible on a personal level to help the environment. And Google is stepping up to support their employees in the environment by launching this program and encouraging their employees to use these cars.
Google hopes to grow the fleet to 100 plug-in hybrid vehicles, and we're thrilled to play a part in that role.
Of course, a key aspect of this innovative program is the truly innovative technology. We have the largest fleet of fuel-efficient vehicles in the world, but there are certain leading edge green technologies that we don't have great access to. We hope programs like this will encourage manufacturers to make similar commercially viable plug-in hybrid cars available. We know there's a pent-up demand for such a product, and we are anxious to see manufacturers progress in that direction, as we would certainly be a buyer for these vehicles. (APPLAUSE)
This partnership with Google represents our only corporate car-sharing program made up entirely of hybrids and plug-in hybrids. So it's innovative in that respect as well. We hope it will serve as a model for other companies, and we look forward to doing similar programs with them.
We applaud the many Google employees who already use public transportation to get to work, whether it's by bus, bike or rail. And we've tailored what we call the G-Fleet for their use. Once they have enrolled in the program, all the employees have to do is make an online reservation to use a hybrid plug-in, and it will be available to them seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
This program makes public transportation an even better option for Google employees. Now when they leave campus in one of these hybrid plug-ins and pick up a sick child to go to a doctor's appointment, they'll be doing their part to reduce gasoline consumption, reduce emissions, and also to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. And I know I share with you that that really charges all of our batteries.
In closing, let me say this. If Google can help advance the state of the art in automotive engines as well as it's defined the state of the art in search engines, then folks, we are off to a terrific start. So thank you very much!