For environmentally-conscious road-trippers, the recent transformation of the rental car industry towards eco-friendliness is nothing short of a delight. In the past, locating electric vehicles (EVs) from major rental companies was a daunting task, but the industry’s newfound enthusiasm for battery-powered cars promises to revolutionize the road trip experience.
According to a 2023 report by Market Research Future, the EV rental market is projected to triple in size by 2032, reflecting a broader societal shift towards electric vehicles in the United States. Mark Schirmer, a spokesperson for automotive services organization Cox Automotive, notes, “EV growth is here to stay, so we will see more EVs in all parts of our automotive experience,” including rental fleets.
For many EV drivers, environmental consciousness is a significant motivator. Joel Levin, the executive director of the nonprofit EV advocacy group Plug In America, emphasizes the substantial environmental benefits of going electric. It reduces carbon emissions, mitigating climate change’s effects and improving local air quality.
Why Choose EV Rentals?
Aside from easing travelers’ environmental concerns, EVs offer substantial cost savings compared to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. While charging costs can vary based on factors such as network, location, vehicle model, and charger type, EV charging is consistently more economical than buying gas.
Electrify America, one of the largest charging networks in the United States, estimates that charging an EV from 10 percent to 80 percent of its capacity—the recommended range—typically costs between $17 to $20 for non-members.
A 2023 Associated Press poll indicates that around 40 percent of U.S. consumers are open to considering an EV for their next vehicle purchase. For many, renting an EV offers a valuable opportunity to experience these vehicles firsthand before making a long-term commitment.
Laura Smith, the executive vice president of global and customer experience at Hertz, affirms, “Renting is a great way to test-drive an EV and experience all they have to offer.”
With numerous developments underway in the EV rental market, here is everything you need to know about renting an EV today.
Where to Find Electric Vehicle Rentals
Although the market for EV rentals is evolving, the availability of EVs remains somewhat limited. Fortunately, car rental aggregator websites like Kayak, RentalCars, and Priceline now include filters for EV-specific results, making it easier to locate these vehicles. Alternatively, you can visit the websites of car rental agencies directly.
Major car rental companies are also investing in expanding their EV fleets.
Here’s what some of them are doing:
Hertz, one of the industry giants, has made significant strides in embracing EVs. Since 2021, the company has entered purchase agreements for over 300,000 EVs, including models from Tesla, Polestar, and GM. These EVs are available in the United States, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand. Hertz expects to rent out nearly 2 million EVs in 2023, a fivefold increase from 2022, with EVs projected to constitute 25 percent of its global fleet by the end of 2024.
Hertz has also established more than 2,700 U.S. charging stations, including those at airports like Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, San Francisco International Airport, and Orlando International Airport. Additional charging stations are planned through partnerships with energy companies like BP, which intends to invest $1 billion in EV chargers across the United States by 2030.
Enterprise Holdings, which operates brands such as Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental, and Alamo Rent-A-Car, is also expanding its EV offerings. The company already includes thousands of EVs in its fleets across the USA, Canada, and Europe, featuring models from manufacturers like Tesla, Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, Renault, and Polestar.
Enterprise Holdings is fully committed to the transition to electrification, although specific details about the volume, locations, and timeline for EV expansion remain undisclosed. They emphasize concentrating their EV inventory in West Coast locations where demand and infrastructure support EV usage.
Avis Budget Group
Avis Budget Group, which includes Avis Car Rental and Budget Rent A Car, has quietly introduced rental options for Tesla Model 3s and Chevy Bolts on its website. The company has also entered a charging infrastructure partnership with EverCharge to facilitate further fleet electrification at select airports.
Apart from traditional rental car companies, Turo offers a peer-to-peer car-sharing platform similar to Airbnb. Turo provides a wide range of EVs, hybrids, and standard vehicles for rental in numerous markets across the country. It often offers competitive pricing, making it a viable option for securing an electric vehicle.
Travelers Considering EV Rentals Should Be Aware Of:
- Mileage Range: Prospective EV renters should consider the vehicle’s mileage range. Range anxiety, the fear of running out of power, is a common concern. While the median range for an EV is about 230 miles per full charge, factors such as incline, acceleration, and temperature can affect mileage.
- Charging Stations: Not all EV charging stations are the same. There are three tiers of chargers, from the slowest Level 1 to ultrafast Level 3 chargers. Level 3 chargers provide substantial charges in about half an hour, making them ideal for quick stops.
- Finding Charging Stations: When planning an EV road trip, consider booking hotels with charging stations for convenience. Major hotel chains like Marriott and Hilton offer this amenity. Websites like Expedia and Booking.com allow users to filter for hotels with charging stations. Sites and apps like PlugShare and ChargeHub can also help map out charging stations.
- Costs and Fees: Charging station prices vary based on the charger provider and level. Be aware that some EV rentals may impose fees if the vehicle is returned with less than a certain charge level. Rental agency policies on charging fees can vary, so it’s essential to inquire about them.
As the EV rental market continues to evolve, travelers have more options than ever to explore the world in an eco-friendly style. Whether you’re looking for a Tesla Model 3 or a Nissan Leaf, there’s likely an EV rental option that suits your needs and budget.