COVID-19

New Avis, Budget rental car cleaning strategy partnerships tackle coronavirus transmission

The brands of Avis Budget Group are employing new cleaning strategies.

Photo courtesy of Avis Budget Group

Rental cars pose a unique cleaning challenge. Drivers are switching in and out of vehicles then driving them to who knows where, interacting with who knows who, and stopping at who knows how many places along the way. All for a relatively short period of time.

That's a lot of possible exposure to the coronavirus, which is why Avis Budget Group (ABG) has partnered with RB, the maker of Lysol, and a team of medical professionals from leading institutions, including Columbia University, with expertise in public health, COVID-19, and other infectious diseases to come up with an actionable plan to "enhance cleanliness and disinfection in rental facilties and vehicles." Hip Hop Public Health, which is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering positive behavior change, is also part of the coalition.

A team of scientists and germ experts from RB, who are responsible for driving germ-kill innovation for Lysol, will review and provide ABG guidance on best practices to optimize the efficacy of ABG's cleaning and maintenance protocols. Additionally, AGB will introduce Lysol products at its rental families and in vehicles as part of a larger agreement that replaces or supplements existing CDC-recommended and EPA-certified products that ABG currently uses.

"At RB, our mission is to protect, heal, and nurture in the relentless pursuit of a cleaner, healthier world. It is imperative that we protect all consumers, today and in the days ahead as we all look forward to new ways of returning to work and leisure activities, including travel," said Rahul Kadyan, EVP, North America, Hygiene, RB. "RB/Lysol has over 130 years of science-based research and thought leadership. We are excited to support ABG through awareness, training and education, and adequate product delivery in the hygiene and disinfection space."

The medical professional that are part of the advisory board include Dr. Olajide Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Neurology at Columbia University and Founder of Hip Hop Public Health, Dr. Amelia Boehme, Dr. Robert Bollinger, Dr. Gbenga Ogedegbe and Dr. Angela Rasmussen.

"Updating safety protocols and maintaining fidelity to them requires a company to invest in behavior change in order to facilitate and sustain the uptake of new health-related behaviors by its workforce," said Williams. "We are grateful that ABG is focusing on safety by investing in the educational process of their employees. The right products and protocols need to be properly and consistently deployed by every single individual who is involved in the process to ensure public health safety."

"Our commitment to the safety and satisfaction of our customers and employees is unwavering," said Joe Ferraro, CEO of Avis Budget Group. "Recovering from the impacts of a global pandemic requires innovative solutions and we are excited to announce the Avis Safety Pledge and our Budget Worry-Free Promise. Beyond words, we are taking a comprehensive set of actions through our coalition with Lysol, Hip Hop Public Health and highly esteemed expert medical professionals, aimed at ensuring the products, protocols, and training are in place to raise the bar for cleanliness and safety."

Avis Budget Group is the parent company of Avis, Budget, Zipcar, Maggiore, FranceCars, Apex Car Rentals, and Payless Car Rental. Their extended network of companies includes other global brands.

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The 2022 Acura TLX has the technology enabled.

Photo courtesy of Acura

Toyota and Lexus announced that the WarnerMedia RIDE app would be coming to their models earlier this year. Now, Honda and Acura will be offering the same.

On certain Wi-Fi enabled Honda and Acura vehicles, AT&T unlimited in-car Wi-Fi users will have access to the WarnerMedia RIDE app. The app allows users to connect multiple devices in their vehicles to browse, stream and share premium content from the WarnerMedia library while on the road.

Honda and Acura vehicle owners have been able to use their on-board modem as a hot spot for connecting up to seven devices since 2017. Models compatible for the new tech include the Acura RDX (2019-present), Acura TLX (2021), and Acura MDX (2022) across all trim levels. Honda vehicles with the tech include Accord (2018-present, Touring), Odyssey (2018-present; Touring, Elite), Insight (2019-present, Touring)., Passport (2019-present; Touring, Elite)., and Pilot (2019-present; Touring, Elite, Black Edition).

The WarnerMedia RIDE App allows passengers to access 1,000+ hours of live and on-demand entertainment. The app includes hit TV shows and movies from top brands such as Cartoon Network, CNN, HBO Max, TBS, TNT and TruTV, spanning animation, entertainment, news, sports and more.

WarnerMedia RIDE app The WarnerMedia RIDE app allows users to choose their own avatar.Photo courtesy of Acura

Users can set up profiles and personalize their user exerpience with an avatar from the WarnerMedia library. Profiles also ensure age-appropriate content with options for adults to restrict access to their profiles with an access code.

"Wireless connectivity and connected car services continue to be key features for customers and our long-standing relationship with AT&T continues to be one way we deliver exciting new content to Honda and Acura owners," said Art St. Cyr, vice president of North American Auto Strategy for American Honda. "Honda will continue working to enhance the in-car experience, including the capabilities of the AT&T network and access to top content with WarnerMedia RIDE."

"We're always looking for new and innovative ways to elevate the connected car experience for our customers. With WarnerMedia RIDE, we are delivering a connected experience that's perfect for journeys," said Joe Mosele, vice president, Mobility & Internet of Things, AT&T. "Our collaboration is keeping Honda and Acura owners connected wherever they travel with hours of news and entertainment for the whole family."

WarnerMedia RIDE is available now in the App Store and on Google Play for all U.S. unlimited data plan subscribers. WarnerMedia RIDE is included at no additional cost for existing and new unlimited subscribers.

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The Lamborghini Huracan EVO RWD is a fresh addition to the supercar company's lineup.

Photo by Jordan Golson

There's something about a supercar that is deeply enthralling. This is particularly true when that supercar is a Lamborghini Huracán painted in an outrageous matte purple called Viola Mel.

There's much more to a supercar than the price, but let's get that out of the way up front: My test car stickers for an honestly-quite-reasonable $278,516 after it was fitted with $66,250 worth of optional extras and an eye-watering $3,695 destination charge.

Much like the Rolls-Royce Ghost previously reviewed last week, the question of whether its "worth it" is entirely up to the potential buyer. Specifically whether or not they a: want a Lamborghini Huracán EVO RWD; and b: have $278,516 to spend on a wildly impractical 610-horsepower sports car. If the answers to both are true, then yes, it's worth it.

The car's Viola Mel color attracts a lot of attention.Photo by Jordan Golson

But first, the basics: Getting in the Huracán isn't easy. And I don't just mean coming up with a house worth of cash to buy one — I mean literally climbing in. I had to teach a few people how to do it and it goes something like this: Open door; put one foot inside the footwell; set butt on the door sill; slide butt into seat; bring other foot into footwell; close door. To leave, reverse it.

It's not an elegant process and doing it in anything remotely approaching a dignified manner is tricky. But, if you do it right, your car will be painted in that Viola Mel color and folks won't be paying any attention to your haphazard attempts to not fall over when exiting the car because they'll be too busy falling in love with the paint. That's a $16,500 paint job by the way, courtesy of Lamborghini's Ad Personam customization program and words fail when trying to describe how good it looks in person.

It looks so magnificent that people think it's fake. I brought it to the weekly South OC Cars and Coffee event — ostensibly it's an impromptu car show for all manner of car enthusiasts, but an awful lot of Lambo drivers show up to show off. There were at least ten Huracáns in attendance, including a spyder in what a Porsche enthusiast would call Miami Blue — but none garnered as much attention as the Viola Mel.

Storage space is at a premium.Photo by Jordan Golson

This is what owning a supercar (or borrowing one for the weekend, in my case) is all about. Except the paint job was so outrageously unique that nearly everyone thought it was a really good wrap, or temporary vinyl covering. It costs a lot of money to have Lamborghini paint their car in such a way that it convinces people that you put a wrap on your car. And then you get to explain that no, it's not a wrap, it's paint and here let me show you this sticker under the hood that proves it's an original factory paint job. There aren't many cars that could get me going about the paint for hundreds of words, but here we are.

This was my second Huracán, and the first was wildly uncomfortable. A friend that I gave a ride to still talks about how awful it was, and that was five years ago. I wasn't sure if it was because of the car or because of the seats — but it was a little bit of both. That one had the most hardcore racing seats Lambo offers fitted to it, while this one has the mid-tier Sport Seat ($7,500). They're fairly comfortable, as sports car seats go, and are manually adjustable which is good for racing but I might skip them and get the "base" comfort seats instead unless you're going racing, in which case go for the uncomfortable race chairs.

Enough about the look; now on to that 610-horsepower V10. I'm not usually one to get emotional about the good old days, but there is something really special about a giant naturally aspirated engine that's going to be lost from the world soon due to new engine and fuel economy regulations, not to mention the advancement of technology.

The engine fires up with a ferocious bark that rattles the soul like a bolt of lightning and happily revs to terrifying heights with the slightest twitch of the throttle. The start button, hidden beneath an absurdly wonderful red missile-launcher-esque protective cover, might as well inject dopamine directly into your brain in such prodigious amounts as to make you forget about the pandemic, the fact that Trump isn't President or that he ever was (your choice), and that Tom Brady has seven Super Bowl rings and you don't.

And that's before you aim that Viola Mel nose at the nearest interstate on-ramp and punch it, Chewie.

Troubles forgotten. Smile affixed. Life ain't so bad.

At least until you have to slow down because you're well into triple digits and you haven't even merged onto the highway yet. Still. It's a good day.

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