In a bygone era Hertz Car Rental offered rare fire-breathing steeds like the Shelby Mustang, but these days it is providing such latest-tech novelties as electric bikes in London, Tesla Roadsters in LA, and other electric vehicles including the Chevy Volt in Washington, D.C.

As for the latest plug-in promo in the nation’s capitol, a little over a week ago, Hertz announced it would add five all-electric and hybrid vehicles, including the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt, which can be checked out by the hour from Union Station, just blocks from Capitol Hill.

The LEAFs and Volts are part of the “Connect by Hertz” car sharing program for which customers must sign up in order to rent, but otherwise requires no extra membership fees.

From Capitol Hill it's not a long walk down to Electric Avenue, er rather, Hertz at Union Station. (Photo by Washington Business Journal)

Now if policymakers want to experience first hand one of these new-fangled vehicles that the president hopes to see one million of on U.S. roads by 2015, they have another convenient avenue by which to do it.

The cars are being made available also to the general public, but Hertz made sure to note members of Congress and employees on Capitol Hill can partake of its car sharing operation.

“Washington, D.C., a major transportation hub in the northeast corridor, is a natural city for Hertz Global EV, and we look forward to helping move the 'electrification of transportation' dialog from policy to practice in D.C.; building awareness and interest in EVs and PHEVs among the city's residents,” said Mark P. Frissora, Hertz chairman and CEO.

Hertz will also invest in new car-charging stations in Washington to better facilitate usage of its latest plug-in vehicles.

"We will have charging stations installed within the week, and there are also other charging stations within the public parking area," said Hertz Spokeswoman Paula Rivera over a week ago. "We will also be installing a second station at a downtown locale.”

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The Connect by Hertz car-sharing program began in 2008 in New York. Thus far, it has operations in around a dozen cities in North America and Europe, as well as nearly four dozen college campuses.

Hertz plans to deploy more EVs and PHEVs in the U.S. and other countries throughout 2011. As part of its strategy, Hertz is forming partnerships with automakers, charging station providers, municipalities, NGOs, corporations and other stakeholders.

To date, the company has ordered vehicles from GM, Nissan, Toyota and Mitsubishi, and has signed an agreement with NRG Energy Inc. to support development of a charging infrastructure and services for EVs in Texas.

NOTE: For those who missed it, last night we belatedly found and posted at the end of yesterday's story a video of Tuesday's GM shareholder meeting. It features GM CEO Dan Akerson speaking, essentially giving a state of the union address on the company.

Source: Washington Business Journal , NACS , Hertz