ST. LOUIS -- As part of a partnership to promote the increased availability and use of alternative fuels and technologies throughout the United States, Enterprise Rent-A-Car is designating its premier rental location in Washington, D.C., as an official “E85/FlexFuel branch.”

The news is tied to today’s announcement that Enterprise’s partners VeraSun Energy, one of the largest producers of ethanol in the U.S., General Motors (GM), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have joined forces to make VeraSun’s branded E85, VE85™, available to the general public for the first time in the District of Columbia.

For Enterprise, the move is the latest addition to a comprehensive and long-term environmental stewardship platform. The company has the world’s largest fleet of Flex-Fuel vehicles – 41,000 cars and trucks that have the ability to burn E85, a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Nationally, Enterprise is actively deploying as many of its Flex-Fuel vehicles as possible near E85 fueling stations in order to increase the number of cars being fueled with E85.

“As the owner of the world’s largest vehicle fleet, we are committed to fueling our Flex-Fuel vehicles with E85 and sending a strong message that we are ready to embrace new technologies and alternative fuels as they become commercially viable,” said Matthew G. Darrah, Enterprise Rent-A-Car senior vice president of North American operations. “Those who produce and sell Flex-Fuel vehicles and E85 fuel need to know that if they make it, we will buy it, and we will encourage our customers to use it as well.

“Here in Washington, we are honored to be first in line to put VeraSun’s VE85 fuel into our General Motors cars,” said Darrah. “We’re also proud to be a member of the EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership. It’s a pleasure to join with others who share our commitment.”

More than half of the fleet at the Enterprise E85/FlexFuel branch – located at 1029 Vermont Ave. NW in Washington, D.C. – will be Flex-Fuel vehicles and able to use the VeraSun E85 fuel. According to the EPA, E85 can reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to 20 percent. Enterprise estimates it will refuel the 50 GM Flex-Fuel vehicles at this branch with more than 3,000 gallons of VE85™ per year. To educate customers about VE85™, Enterprise will provide in-car materials about the fueling station location (Georgetown Chevron, 2450 Wisconsin Ave. NW), as well as about the environmental benefits of the fuel.

“With nearly one million vehicles in our fleet, we have to be part of any public policy conversation that deals with the two things we need to be successful for the long term – cars and fuel,” said Darrah. “We need access to both and both must be acceptable to society. For us, environmental stewardship is about sustaining our business for the long term by addressing the parts of the world our business touches. Embracing renewable fuel blends like VE85™ and alternative technologies like Flex-Fuel is a step in the right direction to reduce vehicle emissions and cut our dependence on fossil fuels.”

VeraSun Chairman and CEO Don Endres said, “We are very pleased to be working with Enterprise on this initiative. This will allow consumers to experience driving an FFV running on E85 prior to purchasing a new vehicle. This is one more step forward in our continuing pursuit to move E85 further into the mainstream while driving business to our participating retailers.”

Michelle Bosch, Enterprise Rent-A-Car vice president and general manager for the greater Washington D.C. region, said, “Part of our goal as a company is to reduce the environmental impact of our own fleet. But we know our customers care about the environment, too. We want to make it easier for them to make sustainable choices, and dedicating our premier branch in D.C. to VE85™ and Flex-Fuel vehicles will help us accomplish that goal.”

The other major elements of Enterprise’s environmental platform include:

  • Nationwide, Enterprise offers more than 3,000 gas/electric hybrid vehicles, a number unmatched in the car rental industry.
  • A third of Enterprise’s U.S. fleet qualifies for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay certification mark, a distinction the EPA grants to vehicles that emit relatively low levels of both regulated pollutants and greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

    Enterprise has more fuel-efficient cars on the road than any other rental car company in the world, with more than 334,000 vehicles – 47 percent of its rental fleet – averaging a highway fuel efficiency rating of at least 28 mpg. This is nearly 10 times the number of similar vehicles offered by its nearest competitor. In addition, more than 199,000 vehicles – 28 percent of Enterprise’s worldwide rental fleet – average at least 32 miles per gallon. Enterprise also offers hourly vehicle rentals in several major metropolitan areas, including Washington, D.C., a solution many urban residents are seeking in order to limit vehicle ownership, reduce congestion, and address other environmental concerns resulting from the use of vehicles in densely populated areas.

    Enterprise is actively funding the advancement of alternative fuel research to reduce dependence on fossil fuels for the long term. In February, Enterprise’s founding family (the Jack Taylor family of St. Louis) gave $25 million to create the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Institute for Renewable Fuels at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, one of the world’s foremost plant research centers. The Institute will work to develop acceptable and affordable alternatives to finite fossil fuels by finding new ways to create fuel from renewable, reliable plant sources.

    In 2006, Enterprise launched the 50 Million Tree Pledge, a public/private/non-profit partnership involving The National Arbor Day Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service. Through this initiative, the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation will underwrite the planting of 50 million trees – 1 million trees a year over the next 50 years in national forests around the country – or the equivalent of planting a new Central Park every 10 days for the next 50 years. The grant will also fund tree-planting initiatives in international locations where Enterprise does business, including Europe and Canada. In total, it is a gift valued at $50 million if paid for in today’s dollars.