02/25/07 -- Associated Press - ST. LOUIS -
The family that founded Enterprise Rent-a-Car is donating $25 million for
scientific research aimed at reducing U.S. dependence on oil and curbing
cause global warming.
The money from Jack and Susan Taylor will establish the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Institute
for Renewable Fuels and pay 30 scientists to research making plant-based fuel that is less
polluting than gasoline. A dozen more scientists will be hired over three years.
The institute will be based at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in suburban St.
"My father (Jack Taylor) has always had a bit of a bent on the environment. We want to be
part of (the Plant Science Center) and part of the solution" to global warming, Enterprise
Rent-A-Car Chief Executive Andrew Taylor told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The St. Louis region is trying to become a national center in bioenergy research, say
business leaders and state officials.
The institute "will help us along the way as we try to attract other assets, such as (federal)
renewable energy labs," said Mike Mills, the state's deputy director of Economic
St. Louis and other regions are competing for funding and projects in renewable fuels,
prompted by increasing awareness of global warming, and the need to gain energy
Earlier this month, the British oil giant BP said it was funding a $500 million renewable fuels
research program at a consortium made up of the University of California at Berkeley, the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Work at the institute will dovetail with research at Washington University and at Southern
Illinois University at Edwardsville's National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center.
The Taylors' $25 million endowment is on top of $10 million they gave to the Plant Science
Center in 2005.
Andrew Taylor acknowledged that critics might see the $25 million endowment as an
expense of corporate reconciliation from the world's largest buyer of vehicles.
Enterprise's international fleet comes in at just under 900,000 vehicles. In October 2006,
the company said it will donate $50 million to plant 50 million trees over the next 50 years,
in a partnership with the National Arbor Day Foundation.
"This is not spin. This is absolutely something we need to do for our business," Taylor
Enterprise's fleet includes 30,000 flexible-fuel vehicles that can run on fuel that is 85
percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. However, the vehicles are grouped mainly in
areas of Iowa and Minnesota that have a large number of fueling stations that offer E85
The popularity of hybrids, which run on both gasoline and electricity, among consumers
has limited Enterprise's ability to buy the vehicles for its fleet.