Hertz plans to join Avis in bringing to car rental counters in Sacramento, Calif., the brave new world of low-pollution cars that run on something besides gasoline.
Early this month, Avis launched a fleet of 20 1992 Chevrolet Luminas that burn methanol. Hertz will follow with 50 1993-model Ford Tauruses this fall.
The cars are "flexible fuel vehicles," running on either unleaded gasoline or M-85, a mixture of 85 percent methanol and 15 percent gasoline that California authorities are promoting as a solution to the state's smog problem.
Driving a car running on methanol means a slightly smaller range before the tank must be refilled. Also, if the car is designed for methanol, some automotive engineers say it cannot perform quite as well when it is running on gasoline.
But Joseph Russo, a spokesman for Hertz, said, "From a customer standpoint, there won't be any real difference in performance."