On-demand cars a ‘green alternative’ for visitors

PO‘IPU — Sustainability is hitting the streets of Kaua‘i next month, and revving up their hybrid engines in preparation for the launch of their new business — GreenCarHawai‘i — are owners Warren Doi and Justin MacNaughton.

The electric duo are the first in the state to bring “on-demand” transportation to the visitor industry, Doi said. Not only can visitors rent their vehicles on a hourly basis, they are provided with a “cost-effective, green alternative.”

In a partnership with the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa, guests can rent one of four custom-made, family-friendly Ford Hybrid Escapes with all the latest technological frills, including an iPad, for an “all-inclusive” $15 per hour, Doi said.

Instead of having renting vehicles which sit in the parking lot for 24 hours at a time, guests will benefit from “the convenience of only using a car when they want,” Hyatt General Manager Doug Sears said Friday when explaining why he chose to “test drive” the green business.

Around 50 percent of the visitors staying at the Hyatt — group bookings included — are actually car-less when they arrive and are transported by shuttle, bus or taxi during their stay, according to one of the valets.

A partnership with GreenCarHawai‘i was a “no-brainer” for the South Shore resort, which has been a pioneer of ushering in other environmentally friendly pursuits, such as a rooftop photovoltaic system and motion sensors for lights, Sears said.

The resort is even expected to have “charging stations for plug-In hybrids and electric cars in the future,” which would potentially work in conjunction with GreenCarHawai‘i, said George Costa, director of the county Office of Economic Development.

“Having a fleet of ‘green’ cars is a good way of addressing our need to reduce dependence and consumption of fossil fuels,” he said. “This sets a good example for the visitor industry and would create interest for our visitors who would like to have ‘green’ choices.”

Plus, it’s a “local company where monies will be kept on island and in the state.”

Reducing carbon emissions and the number of vehicles on the road will not only be beneficial to the community, it will “tread lightly” on the environment, Doi said.

“We feel we can make a big impact,” said the North Shore resident, who had his “aha” moment after witnessing many visitors experience the unpleasant process of renting cars as soon as they arrive on island, already exhausted from traveling by air.

The last thing they want to do is go through the process of renting a car, especially when they know they have to drive a long way in unfamiliar territory, he said. In addition, once they arrive at their destination, they typically stay.

“It’s just such a waste,” Doi said. “I knew there ought to be a better way.”

Doi and his business partner have other ambitions and would like to be a part of building an “ecosystem of green businesses” on island, he said.

“There are many people out of work” and making a transition to a greener economy is the next step, said Doi, the grandson of a local farmer.

“From agriculture to tourism and now to the green economy, we are all trying to use our resources in an efficient manner while caring for the land and our people,” he said.

Having an alternative energy car sharing program available for everyone to use in the community is something Doi said he foresees in the future.

“As we expand, our fleet will consist of the latest alternative energy technology — all electric, biofuels, or hydrogen,” he said. “Our platform will be used not only to promote the latest technology but will create new jobs and hopefully it can be used as a model for other businesses in the green economy.”


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