Making strides with rental hybrids
(This letter was originally addressed to Pitkin County Commissioner Mick Ireland)Dear Editor:As part of our firm’s commitment to sustainable business practices, we have made it company policy to use public transport or fuel efficient rental cars when traveling for business. By this and other techniques, we hope to become a “carbon neutral” enterprise, minimizing the generation of carbon emissions through our business activities. Working with our travel agents, our “travel profiles” request a hybrid or other fuel efficient vehicle when reserving rental cars in distant cities. Unfortunately, the major rental car companies in the United States, including Hertz, Avis, National and Enterprise have virtually no hybrid or high efficiency vehicles within their rental car fleets. Ironically, because I am a frequent renter with many of these companies, my loyalty is often rewarded via a free “upgrade” to larger vehicle such as a Ford Excursion or similar gas guzzling vehicle. Sadly, I am rewarded with a form of transportation directly at odds with my objectives and values.There are an estimated 1.7 million rental car vehicles in the United States. There are 60-1000 (dependent on the season) vehicles in the combined fleets of the rental car companies operating at the Aspen airport. Imagine the savings in gasoline and, in turn, the reduction in greenhouse gases if this entire fleet were convened to fuel efficient vehicles? It is unlikely that our federal government will mandate fuel efficiency standards in the near future given current presidential policies. There is no indication that the rental car companies are moving in this direction on their own. But – it could occur if individual municipalities and counties were to require by ordinance that rental car companies convert their entire fleets to fuel efficient vehicles over a period of time, say four years. By doing so, visitors to our community would be given a subtle but important message about the environmental priorities of our community as well.In turn the need to provide replacements for the 1.7 million rental car vehicles currently on the road today would create a significant market for hybrid or other fuel efficient vehicles among U.S. and foreign automobile manufacturers, providing market incentives for Detroit to advance its, heretofore, glacial movement toward more efficient vehicles. Such an initiative could also encourage Denver and other cities in the state to take similar action. For example, a surcharge could be applied to all non-fuel efficient vehicles “dropped off at the Aspen airport. “Want to drive a car from Denver to Aspen?” Make sure it is fuel efficient!This movement could start today in Aspen. I urge you to join together with the Mayor of Snowmass and the Pitkin County Commissioners to pass appropriate legislation necessary to set this transformation in motion. It is a simple but effective way to send a message to the world.Thank you for your consideration.Kurt CulbertsonDesign WorkshopAspen
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A driver looking to squeeze one last four-wheel drive up Aspen Mountain discovered that it’s not the ascent but the decent that poses a challenge.