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In recent years we have been hearing the term ‘’sustainability’’ more and more, as the number of its advocates has continued to rise. But what does sustainability actually involve, and how can it be implemented in an entrepreneurial context? Sustainability seeks to maintain the balance of the planet’s ecological diversity in order to ensure the preservation of all life forms, using a holistic approach. This means being fully conscious of the impact that your actions or business operations have on the environment, and proactively acting in a more eco-friendly way. This philosophy, as well as the associated actions and behaviour that result from it, have become increasingly popular within mainstream culture and can be seen in terms of consumer behaviour, among other things. As such, companies that not only advertise but also proactively adhere to sustainable business practices and successfully create a "green brand” are increasingly preferred by consumers. Buying green gives customers the opportunity to passively contribute to sustainability, and, thus, this emerging consumer preference also presents a great opportunity for businesses.
The automobile market offers huge potential for improvement with respect to sustainability, and the electric car is an important move in the right direction. It is slowly but surely leaving its niche behind and successfully entering the mass market. Most major car manufacturers have also jumped on the bandwagon of electric car production and the vehicles' success has inspired the founding of companies that exclusively build electric cars, even introducing solar power stations that will allow customers to charge their cars for free. While the manufacture of such a sustainable product provides car manufacturers with positive publicity and, thus, increased revenue, other companies can also benefit from using electric cars, by incorporating them into their motor pool. This option is especially interesting for car rental services. Just as the demand for electric cars is increasing, it is safe to assume that the introducing electric cars in the car rental market will also be successful. In a pioneering move, the car rental company Sixt introduced electric cars to their fleet in 2010. Starting in Copenhagen Denmark, Sixt was the first European car rental service to offer this innovative mobility solution to its customers, offering them a green choice. Today, Sixt offers electric cars in Denmark, Germany and London.
Besides the obvious advantages of the electric car, such as reducing the driver’s carbon footprint and the improved cost efficiency, these cars have a number of positive side effects that are profitable as well, making electric cars a viable option for commercial use. A huge advantage of electric cars comes with short-distance mobility, particularly driving in city traffic. In an attempt to reduce inner city pollution and congestion, cities such as Berlin and London impose an emission particle limit and a congestion charge respectively. As electric cars produce zero emissions, they are exempt from such restrictions and charges and so drivers can, here, avoid both the associated hassle and hefty fees, regardless of whether the cars are being used for commercial or private purposes.