Hertz Corp. Wednesday said it will begin in May offering compressed natural gas (CNG) rental vehicles at the Oklahoma City airport. Chesapeake Energy Corp. helped the nation’s car rental giant make the announcement of its pilot program.

This is the start of adding CNG vehicles to its rental fleet, Hertz said. It plans to start by offering eight CNG Honda Civics and two CNG GMC Yukons at Will Rogers World Airport. All the vehicles will be equipped with GPS systems to help customers find CNG fueling stations.

In cooperation with Chesapeake, Hertz put the new vehicles on display at the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) game Wednesday between the hometown Thunder and the visiting Los Angeles Clippers. It was part of the Oklahoma pro team’s support of the NBA “Green Week” initiative on environmental awareness.

Expanding its array of alternative fuel vehicles is part of a global Hertz environmental initiative called “Living Journey,” the rental car company’s global sustainability strategy. “[We’re] committed to providing our customers with a full spectrum of vehicle options to suit their rental needs, including clean emission vehicles,” said Hertz CEO Mark Frissora, noting that those options include electric vehicles, as well as CNG and other fuel-efficient vehicles in its “Green Traveler Collection.”

Frissora said Hertz plans to continue expanding its clean fuel fleet as more vehicles become available for general use. He said last year the company added CNG vehicles to its Hertz On Demand program at Oklahoma State University at Stillwater, OK, and the company is deploying CNG airport buses at Los Angeles International Airport and is renting CNG vehicles in Italy and the United Kingdom.

Oklahoma City will serve as a pilot program for the CNG airport rentals program, the company said. Oklahoma has two advantages: an established CNG fueling infrastructure with more than 70 planned or existing public stations around the state, and a number of the nation’s leading natural gas producers, such as Chesapeake.

Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon said Hertz was showing its “industry leadership,” and the move to CNG rentals demonstrates an “exciting future for natural gas as a transportation fuel.” McClendon said he hopes success in Oklahoma City will lead to Hertz taking the CNG rentals nationwide.

Hertz said its subsidiary Donlen Corp., a fleet leasing management firm, played a key role in helping Hertz make the move to natural gas vehicles. Donlen CEO Gary Rappeport said moves like this are leading to a “change in the landscape of available transportation solutions.”

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