TUCSCON, AZ – The University of Arizona (UA) will receive its first Nissan Leaf on Earth Day as part of the campus’ car-sharing program for university employees and students.

According to the university, it is the first university campus to receive the vehicle in the nation. The Nissan Leaf will be showcased at the UA Earth Day student event held on the campus Mall on Friday, April 22.

"We are happy to welcome electric vehicles into the Connect by Hertz car sharing fleet here at the University," said David Heineking, director of the UA's Parking & Transportation Services. "Connect by Hertz has been a great asset to University students and staff, and having an electrical vehicle, the car of the future, today is something we're all excited about especially as it ties into our Earth Day initiatives."

The university uses Connect by Hertz as its car sharing program. The Nissan Leaf joins UA's existing pool of vehicles, which includes seven Toyota Prius vehicles, two Smart Cars, a Mini Cooper, and two Ford Explorers. UA’s car sharing program had close to 700 members at the end of March, according to the university. Members must maintain a good driving record for a least a year before joining the program and have a valid driver’s license. They pay an hourly rate to use a vehicle.

"The program is especially popular among our students, because unlike with most other car rentals, anyone 18 years or older can sign up," Davidson said. "The feedback we get is very positive, and our membership base keeps growing."

UA stated that students, faculty and staff can use their membership on campus and benefit from reciprocal membership at any Connect by Hertz city in the world, including in New York, London, Berlin, Madrid, Melbourne, and Paris.

"Most of our subscribers use the cars to drive to appointments, run errands or shop off campus," Davidson said. "The membership includes gas, insurance and roadside assistance."

When members enroll in the program, they receive a smart chip-enabled Connect card, which gives them keyless entry to any car in the fleet the member reserves. Located in five on-campus locations, the vehicles can be rented from one hour to up to a week by making a reservation by phone or online.

"The car knows at all times who should be in it," Davidson said. "You scan card on the outside, and it unlocks. The keys are inside."

The in-car technology enables Connect by Hertz representatives to unlock, engage, and locate vehicles. A hands-free audio kit connects members to a member care center representative should they have questions, need assistance, or need to extend their rental.

With the introduction of the Nissan Leaf, Tucson is one of eleven cities partaking in an electric charging station development initiative called the EV Project. On a larger scale, the project will build a charging station infrastructure throughout Tucson, providing electric car drivers with multiple locations to charge their vehicles.

For the university, the EV Project will install electric chargers in four locations around campus. In addition, the UA Motor Pool will have a charging station available for the EV cars provided.