Electric Rental Vehicles Often Swapped For ICE; Range Anxiety Cited as Issue

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 8

LEAF Getting a Charge at Enterprise

LEAF Getting a Charge at Enterprise

Lee Broughton, head of sustainability at Enterprise, stated this during a recent interview:

Enterprise Listing for Nissan LEAF in Portland, Oregon

Enterprise Listing for Nissan LEAF in Portland, Oregon

“People are very keen to try it, but they will switch out of the contract part way through.  Range anxiety makes them think they can’t get to a charging station.”

We could argue against Broughton, but what’s the point?

Truth is, Broughton is right.

Range anxiety is real and it only diminished over time.  There have been studies that prove this and, if you ask a current BEV owner, they’ll typically tell you that mild range anxiety did exist until after XX weeks behind the wheel.

What Broughton doesn’t point out is that several of these electric vehicle renters are only renting an EV to give it a try anyways.  For most of these renters, this is their first time behind the wheel.  They test it out for a day or two and then return it in favor of something they’re comfortable with.

So, it’s not like range anxiety is the only reason for returning EVs.

In fact, almost all of the rental agencies made it known that when they first started adding BEVs to their fleets, the basic idea was to get them out there so that potential buyers could try them out.

In a way then, these rental EVs are being used exactly as originally intended, despite what reports to the contrary might say.

Source: Bloomberg

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8 responses to "Electric Rental Vehicles Often Swapped For ICE; Range Anxiety Cited as Issue"

  1. Gary H says:

    In San Francisco, about a year ago, a representative from Zipcar reported that they had to tow back many Honda Fit EVs because people did not realize that they were electric. They only rented them because the cars were cheaper than the ICEs. Also, passers-by would unplug the cars from their charging posts because they thought it was wasting electricity. It’s interesting to see how Zipcar may have rectified these issues or if more people are educated.

  2. Bloggin says:

    Sub 100 mile EVs don’t make the best rental cars for a few reasons.

    Most who travel and rent a vehicle tend to be on tight schedules with defined departure times, so the idea of a 80 mile range, and any time required to search for a charging station in an unfamiliar city, or the time necessary to wait for charging is unacceptable.

    If consumers wanted to try out an EV, they could just rent one in their own city.

    I am sure 200+ mile Tesla models are not being returned early due to ‘range’ limitations.

  3. Tourist Ev rentals v2

    Renting EVs to tourists from an airport rental counter is exactly the wrong use case, and counterproductive.

    If the folks renting these cars are EV owners (less than 1% of the population) and they know what they are getting into, that’s one thing. But if these are newbies that haven’t been through the initiation process, and really are not prepared to – and should not be expected to – anticipate how to handle the charging logistics, a steady stream of people will be trained that EVs are limited, limiting, and not ready for prime time. None of which is true in a typical ownership situation where the vast majority of your charging will be at home and possibly work. The few times that you need to charge away from home will likely be at shopping areas or someplace you are familiar with, and familiar with the peculiarities of the charging infrastucture (got a card for this particular network?, can you find the sometimes hidden charger? etc.)

    Driving around looking for chargers in the middle of the day (or worse, night) in an area you’re not familiar with is nobody’s idea of a good time, even if you have the time to cool your heels for few hours.

    I’m all for Enterprise and others renting to locals as a “try before buy” but even then, the lack of home charging limits the validity of the demonstration.

    The only folks I know of who are doing this right are HulaCar, who provide EVs by the hour from hotels and install CD fast chargers at the hotel to solve the charging infrastructure problem.

  4. David Murray says:

    Plugshare combined with a robust charging infrastructure, including DC fast charge stations, should make this possible. However, I doubt the infrastructure is up to it in most cities and without a place for an overnight charge, I just can’t see this working.

  5. Anon says:

    Sounds like folks just need more places to plugin, while they rent. Owners have their charging already figured out.

  6. Tim says:

    Funny this is published now, I own a Nissan LEAF, and am presently on vacation in Orlando where Enterprise rents LEAFS. I initially booked one, after ensuring the place I am staying at has an EV charging station and I had checked PlugShare for places to use during our visit.

    My wife was NOT happy, and insisted I change to a regular car. Had there been DC quick chargers available this would have been an easy sell to her, but without I could not convince her even though I had done my planning in advance to ensure that we would be fine.

    We need more DC fast chargers available #1, and more L2 charging stations without absurd pricing to use them to make this available to more of the public especially for rental purposes, or option 3 would be longer range BEVs (even 100 – 150 miles highway driving).

  7. Josephus says:

    Rental agancies need to follow hotel adaptation.

    How about hotel’s that take the initiative to offer free charging to guests and vistiors. Vistors will probably wander into the hotel and “check it out”, and catering to EVs sells your brand to a new demographic.

    To me this is a no-brainer business model, especially when many charging station installing companies will do the install for free, and only charge the business for electricity used monthly.

  8. scott moore says:

    I disagree with all this. EVs make the perfect rental car. Simply make it clear that the car is for 85 miles only, but that the mileage is free with the car rental, and there’s a hefty towing charge if you let the car “run dry”. The cars must be given to the user fully charged.

    Why: there are probably a large percentage of rentals that aren’t going to exceed the 85 mile limit (the real range of a leaf). Those people will be happy not paying for the gas, and the hassle of “returning the car with the same amount of gas when taken”. Very few rentals are turned over twice or more in a single day, and I would bet most rentals are for a day or less. Thus charging them overnight, even on a slow charger, is practical for rental agencies.

    All that is needed is customer education, and most folks will learn something new to save a few bucks.