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  • Writer's pictureFlow Australia

Major car rental firm swaps petrol for hybrids

All passenger vehicles rented by Toyota-owned car-sharing service Kinto will be hybrid models after customers demanded greener options.



One of Australia's biggest car rental firms has revealed it will offer only hybrid electric versions of passenger cars and SUVs in a bid to meet customer demand for more eco-friendly solutions.


Toyota-backed service Kinto announced its move away from traditional petrol vehicles on Friday, revealing its fleet would feature almost 500 hybrid cars.


The announcement comes in the same month Australia recorded a 40 per cent jump in new hybrid vehicle sales compared to June last year, with more than 9000 sold.


But Kinto's hybrid transition will not extend to light commercial vehicles, such as utes and vans, and will not yet see the company add battery electric options.


Kinto general manager Mark Ramsay said the company, which offers short and long-term rentals as well as car subscriptions, had seen customers increasingly choose greener cars.


"We started with a range of vehicles to test the market in March 2021 and we've seen the preference for hybrid vehicles," he said.


"In our most popular car, the (Toyota) Corolla, when we had petrol and hybrid models available, the hybrid was more popular and that confirmed our suspicion it was the right way to go."


Many motorists were renting hybrid vehicles to cut tailpipe emissions, he said, while others wanted to try out the technology before buying it themselves.


Mr Ramsey said Australian drivers were also getting more familiar with hybrid vehicles as the company was no longer fielding as many phone calls from baffled customers.


"At the beginning we were getting calls from people who hadn't used them before and were unsure of whether the vehicle was on because it was silent," he said.


"As they've become more popular, we've found that type of call is reducing."


Kinto's light commercial fleet is yet to go fully hybrid, however, and Toyota is not expected to release its first electric vehicle in Australia until late 2023.


Other national car firms renting electric and hybrid vehicles include Hertz, Evee, SIXT and Europcar, as well as car-sharing platforms Turo and Uber Carshare.


Kinto's hybrid vehicle commitment comes at a time of growing popularity for the vehicles, with the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries reporting 9020 sales of new hybrid cars during June.


The figure represented a 40.6 per cent increase on June 2022, though the technology was not as popular as battery electric vehicles, which represented 11,042 new vehicle sales during the month.


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