Kermit the Frog has always said it’s not easy being green. But what about driving green? On the Hawaiian island of Maui, driving green is not only easy, it holds marketing value. No, we’re not talking about such widely available hybrid cars as the Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius. Maui Car Rentals has the Bio-Beetle, a 2000 Volkswagen Beetle that runs on biodiesel, a fuel processed from vegetable oil salvaged from local restaurants. Since the car was purchased in July 2002, it’s been a customer favorite that continues to pique public interest.
The Bio-Beetle rental car resulted from a partnership between Rick Tholen, president of Maui Car Rentals, and Shaun Stenshol, owner and operator of Maui Recycling Service.
Spreading the Word
Tholen’s interest in biodiesel as a fuel for his rental cars dates back 20 years — when he first learned about the fuel. But Tholen didn’t ever act on his interest until Stenshol approached him with the idea of adding the Bio-Beetle to the rental fleet.
“It seemed like a great idea,” says Tholen. “We were able to put together a partnership, and we now have one car on the road and we’re hoping to put out more.”
Stenshol learned about biodiesel while employed at the Greenpeace office in Austin, Texas. When he moved to Maui, he didn’t want to own or operate a car that ran on fossil fuels, so for several years he went without a car. But by the time he met Tholen, he had already owned two biodiesel vehicles, an ’81 Volkswagen Rabbit pickup and a 2000 Volkswagen Goff.
“I’d been wanting to supply the rental car so that the general public had the opportunity to use a biodiesel car without having to buy one,” Stenshol says.