Cutting-Edge Technologies Applied to Car Hire Industry

By: Neil Ebsworth

When you think of car hire you probably remember the experience of that summer vacation where you spent an hour after getting off the plane trying to find the little mobile van so that you could retrieve the keys to something that resembled a fridge on wheels, before spluttering out of the airport in a foreign country on the wrong side of the road with one eye on the map and the other trying to remember how to change gear with your right hand.

Car Hire is the last place you would think, in this day of global warming and computer technologies, that would be leading the forefront of technologies to reduce green-house gases and such things but in a few cases around the globe it is the Car Hire firms that are taking technology by the scruff of the neck and producing some real results.

The obvious technologies that are being introduced are hybrid fuel cars. Whist these are greener in terms of green house emissions, there are still questions as to how green they really are. The cost of making the hybrid fuel ethanol has already led to corn production impinging on wheat fields leading to a spike in the price of wheat and the many foodstuffs that it goes into, bread, pasta etc. The case that we cannot afford to turn over our arable land in the pursuit of producing enough ethanol from corn to replace gasoline is a strong one. But as an issue putting carbon emission in front of the consumer, it currently is all we have. When we start complaining about the $10 loaf of bread we will know it has gone too far!

The lesser known technologies now being introduced however show forefront thinking. A firm in Boston is now providing a 24/7 car hire system called Zipcar where consumers effectively give up their car for a rental based on hourly use. Once the customer has signed up he can book a car by the hour and using a credit card style key has only to travel a short distance to pick up a car in his immediate location. The car is equipped with GRPS and black-box technologies which not only control the ignition but also allow the car to be tracked via satellite reducing fraud and theft. The company says that for every car that they employ up to 20 cars are taken off the road thus reducing congestion and overall fuel emissions.

In the UK, car hire firms in association with the local police are requiring bio-metric identification in the form of a fingerprint before you can register for your car. Whilst there have been some complaints by customers, the idea that has seriously reduced theft and fraud is the same argument being put forward for full bio-metric ID cards in that the innocent have nothing to fear and it is only those who have something they wish to hide that are being thwarted.

With many of us now thinking about our summer vacations to France, Italy and beyond it is good to know that at least one of the industries involved in getting us to our destination is thinking about our carbon footprint. It may be some time before we can vacation completely conscience free these days, but who would have thought that those companies that put us in those little deathtraps and sent us on our way into the abyss would be the fore-runners of the new technologies.

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