Brimming with excitement over electrification, entrepreneur Ebrima Jallow beams when given the opportunity to educate a rental customer on the benefits of environmentally friendly vehicles and letting them experience the driving difference. That’s the bread and butter for Cargreen Rent a Car, which Jallow opened just last June in Minneapolis.
A Fueled Desire for a New Business
But Jallow is by no means green himself to the industry, having started nine years ago as a customer specialist in a dealership, followed by stints in sales and financing. The impetus to launching his own business came when customers began asking more and more questions about hybrids and electric vehicles.
“Last year, I became serious about the idea of renting these,” he reflects, adding that his goal was to provide something different than what was already available in the market and increase access to more sustainable vehicles. Because while all-green rental operators have picked up steam in other parts of the world and country, it’s still a novel concept in places such as the Midwest – but that doesn’t mean folks aren’t interested.
Jallow is onto something, as evidenced by the nearly 50 5-star reviews on Google and the number of return customers.
The Rental Offering
The business’ mission is to “provide an environmentally friendly, low-emission, high-MPG vehicle rental experience for leisure or business travel and help reduce the impact of climate change,” its website proudly states.
Cargreen currently has six vehicles in its fleet and offers hybrid, hybrid plug-ins, and fully electric vehicles for rent. Their fleet consists of a Nissan Sentra, Corolla Hybrids, Toyota Prius, RAV4 Hybrids, Mitsubishi Outlanders, and a Tesla Model 3.
He places emphasis on maintaining competitive pricing between the models available and uses a software to help determine the best rate.
“My strategy was to start by studying the market and get to know my customers and what they want, what kind of vehicles they want, and gradually, I will add more vehicles,” he explains.
To make it easier for customers to get their rentals, Cargreen offers free delivery within a 10-mile zone and can arrange to have a vehicle waiting at the MSP airport or a hotel.
“The biggest thing for us is providing convenience and exceptional customer service,” Jallow says. “The whole goal is to help reduce their carbon footprint while customers drive on the roads.”
Of course, Minnesota winters and extreme cold can affect interest in and uptime of some vehicles, so for now, Jallow says he steers them into a PHEV if they’re going longer distances.
Stewards of Sustainability
Jallow views part of his mission as a conversation starter and assisting in customer’s own transition to electrified vehicles. He says renting an EV or hybrid piques their interest by allowing customers to experience the tech, see exactly how much mileage they can get, and how driving one feels, as a sort of helping hand to purchasing their own personal electric vehicle. “Most of my customers are new to this, and you can see on their faces their excitement; they want to drive it,” he says.
“My whole goal is to provide an easy transition for customers to come to my location, rent a vehicle, and if they are not very comfortable in an EV, I and my team are here to walk them around and start them with the hybrid level.”
Before driving the vehicle off the lot, the Cargreen team takes renters through how to drive the car, use the in-vehicle tech and infotainment systems, and shows them where to find chargers. This helps curb any range anxiety.
“We give them an interactive map of where to find charging, and many of them come back and comment on how easy it was to maintain and charge, and it’s so quiet and smooth to drive,” Jallow says.
So, what’s next for Cargreen? Jallow says he hopes to scale up, increase the fleet so customers have more options — including more Teslas, secure a DC fast charger, and open another location in Bloomington near the airport.