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. Portuguese airports start offering eco-friendly cars for rent
LISBON (AFP) Jan 18, 2005
Portugal's three busiest airports on Tuesday began offering arriving travelers the option of renting environmentally friendly gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles during their stay, environmentalists said.

A total of 25 hybrids, which combine a conventional gasoline engine with an electric motor, are available at Avis car rental offices at airports in Lisbon, second-city Oporto and the southern city of Faro, said the president of environmentalist group Quercus, Francisco Ferreira.

"We want to promote this form of getting around, which has less harmful effects on the environment, among those who visit us," he told AFP.

It is the first time that US-based Avis has offered the hybrid vehicles for rent at any of its locations in Europe, local officials from the firm said.

Quercus, which spearheaded the drive to have US-based Avis provide the hybrids for rental in Portugal, hopes to have 100 such cars available for rent at the three locations within one year.

To encourage their use the rental price of the Honda and Toyota hybrids will be equal to the lowest price for a rental of a regular vehicle.

At low speeds the electric motor of the cars powers the vehicles and the gasoline engine only accelerates as the vehicle gains speed, which allows it to use less fuel.

The vehicle's battery pack is charged by the gasoline engine and by power regenerated by the brakes.

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