US car rental giant Enterprise Holdings has said it intends to grow its fleet of electric vehicles, and is the first car hire firm in the country to add the Chevy Volt. The company’s chief executive officer and chairman, Andrew Taylor, said that 1.6 million vehicles were introduced to roads in the US by car hire companies every year. He explained that the future of the rental industry was reliant on making sure these vehicles were acceptable to society and economically viable and that this included the way in which they are powered.

As well as the Chevy Volt, an extended-range electric car, Enterprise supplies customers with other EVs including the Peugeot iOn, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the Nissan LEAF. The electric cars are made available to customers at Enterprise branches, through business rental schemes and through the WeCar sharing programme.

Spokeswoman for Enterprise, Lisa Martini, said increasing the company’s fleet of electric vehicles would help it to meet environmental goals. It will also give Enterprise the opportunity to introduce customers to the latest electric vehicle technology, she added.

The latest investment plan will involve buying more cars as well as improving facilities and increasing the number of charging stations. Martini pointed out that the downtime required by EVs was understandably more than is required for a traditional petrol-powered vehicle and that this has an impact on operational costs.

Enterprise is aiming to reduce costs related to energy use by 20 per cent per year over the coming five years.