Environmentally-conscious travellers don’t have to feel quite so guilty about visiting the Magic Kingdom anymore.
Tourism is big business in Orlando, with the region attracting an incredible 57 million visitors annually – many of whom opt to hire a rental car to speed them on their way to see Mickey and Minnie.
However, in a bid to reduce the economic impact of mass tourism, Orlando is trailblazing a revolutionary electric rental car initiative.
The ‘Drive Electric Orlando’ (DEO) initiative is taking the gas pump out of the equation for visitors – and it’s the largest electric rental car initiative of its kind.
Orlando already has one of the largest electric vehicle charging networks in the US, with more than 300 stations available in the area. This is the next big step, and it’s super easy to participate, as a number of hotel partners will even valet park your electric rental car for free and charge it for you. And most charging stations are free to use – resulting in big savings for eco-conscious travellers.
The initiative is being spearheaded by the Electrification Coalition, a non-profit and nonpartisan group of business leaders that wants to put more people behind the wheels of electric cars. Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Visit Orlando, Sabre Holdings and region’s hotels and attractions have also joined forces to make this happen.
“Orlando’s visitors now have an opportunity to try out an exciting technology while saving time, saving money and making a difference,” said Robbie Diamond, president and CEO of the Electrification Coalition. “We see this program as Orlando’s newest and smartest ride, a program that lets visitors see all that Orlando has to offer while leaving the gas pump behind.”
Enterprise Rent-A-Car is renting out Nissan LEAF plug-in electric vehicles at its Orlando International Airport location: “Our supporting role in the Drive Electric Orlando project promotes the adoption of electric vehicles in one of the world’s top tourist destinations,” said Lee Broughton, head of sustainability at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. “We know that the car rental experience is often an extended test drive. Our partnership with Drive Electric Orlando familiarizes travellers with new vehicle technology that they may not otherwise be able to experience.”
All renters receive brief tutorials on the operation of the vehicles, as well as the use of charging stations throughout Orlando. Most travellers, however, may never need to find a charging station. Several hotel partners, including The Peabody Orlando and Renaissance Orlando, are offering free re-charging for Drive Electric Orlando participants along with a valet parking service. The Orange County Convention Center also offers several free charging stations for meeting attendees.
For the leaders of the Electrification Coalition and the growing network of Central Florida travel partners, Drive Electric Orlando is about much more than a leisure or business travel experience. It’s part of a larger effort to revolutionize the American transportation sector and reduce the country’s dependence on oil.