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Electric cars, including new rentals, can now power up

By Alan Yonan Jr.

LAST UPDATED: 2:11 a.m. HST, Apr 20, 2011

The company that owns Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Alamo and National plans to bring in its first order of all-electric Nissan Leafs to Hawaii next month and hopes to have 25 of the cars in its local fleet in time for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperative summit this fall.

The cars will be marketed toward both and visitors and local residents, who may use the rental program as a way to test-drive the Leaf for an extended period before deciding whether to buy one, said Paul Kopel, manager of operations for Enterprise Holdings in Hawaii.

Based on the success of electric-gas hybrids in the Enterprise stable of vehicles, Kopel said he expected strong demand for the Leafs. Yesterday the Enterprise website had a To­yota Prius hybrid available in Hono­lulu for $60 a day, the same price as a Ford Fusion.

Among the companies Enterprise will be working with is California-based Better Place, which unveiled a group of five "charge spots" yesterday at the Sheraton Waikiki hotel. The charge spots are among 10 being installed islandwide as part of a $1.1 million pilot proj­ect.

The U.S. Department of Energy and the federally funded Hawaii Renewable Energy Development Venture provided $500,000 for the pilot proj­ect. The balance was paid for by HECO and Kyo-ya Co., which owns the Sheraton and several other Waikiki hotels.

5: Charge spots at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel

2: Cars will be able to charge up at each charge spot

$1.1M: Cost of the pilot project

The charge spots, capable of accommodating two cars each, are in the parking garage of the Sheraton Waikiki, which has bought two Chevrolet Volt electric cars to use as guest shuttles.

Better Place said it will monitor use of the charge spots for a period of time in the pilot program before opening them up to the public.

The first phase of Better Place's proj­ect will also include five charge spots at HECO facilities around Oahu. The utility plans to buy five electric cars as part of the plan.

In the initial phase of the pilot proj­ect, Better Place, the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute of the University of Hawaii and HECO will track electricity usage, recharge performance, effect on the power grid and driver behavior, said Brian Gold­stein, Hawaii manager for Better Place.

Kyo-ya Executive Vice President Ernest Nishi­zaki said the electric cars and chargers will allow the company's Waikiki hotels "to remain competitive with the world's top travel destinations."

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