Maui has the world’s only biodiesel rental car company in the world – Bio-Beetle – and recently they expanded their fleet to include electric vehicles. This comes right in the wake of a new county initiative to add an electric vehicle support system via the Maui Electric Vehicle Alliance. Bio-Beetle opened in January 2003 to offer the most environmentally friendly rental cars in the world. They also use non-toxic chemicals to clean the cars, encourage recycling, use 100% recycled paper and equip renters with free reusable shopping bags, coolers and boogie boards.
The fleet includes 17 cars: one Jeep Liberty, 13 Volkswagen beetles and Jettas that run on bio-fuel, two Toyota Priuses and one Nissan Leaf. The Leaf was the first electric vehicle offered for sale on Maui.
“The Leaf was rented out for one day by an Oahu resident who is considering buying one,” says Bio-Beetle president Shaun Stenshol. “We also just rented it out to someone staying in Hana for five days where the bed and breakfast had an outlet for her to plug into to. They both loved the car.”
Since expanding the fleet to include the Prius and the Leaf, Bio-Beetle has not added any biodiesel vehicles. But they still see bio-fuel as the most environmentally friendly option overall and will continue to add biodiesel vehicles when the timing is right.
“Because of the price of diesel vehicles, we pay a lot more for our cars then other rental car companies,” says Stenshol. “That is the single biggest challenge we face. Adding electric and plugin cars is even more expensive. Also it’s very hard to compete with the large car rental companies already here. Most people book through the major online travels sites and don’t know we exist. Those major travel sites won’t take any ‘new’ companies, even when we are offering a different service, so we have to rely on word of mouth, repeat renters, travel guides and people searching on their own.”
The Nissan Leaf has a EPA fuel efficiency rating of 93-109 miles per gallon and is believed to be the most fuel-efficient car offered in the U.S. You can find more about renting this vehicle from Bio-Beetle at evcarrentals.com or bio-beetle.com.
“Unfortunately it can be difficult being a small green business, trying to make a place for oneself in a saturated market,” says Stenshol. “But we believe strongly in what we are doing and hope that ethical business practices and green options will be the norm in the future.”