Americans itching to get behind the wheel of an electric vehicle find rentals are an easy way to take a test drive.
Consumer interest in electric vehicles continues to grow, and with more Americans eager to get behind the wheel for the first time, they’re increasingly turning to car rental companies to satisfy their curiosity.
Car dealerships rarely have unsold EVs on the lot for test drives, so people are getting their feet wet by renting EVs for short road trips or to putter around town on the weekend. Driving an EV with no long term commitment and minimal up-front cost or sales pressure is appealing to folks either on the fence about EVs, or, planning to buy one sometime in the future.
“Renting is a great way to test drive an EV and experience all they have to offer,” said Laura Smith, Executive Vice president of Global Sales and Experience for Hertz.
Hertz is all-in on EVs, its goal is for one-quarter of its fleet to be electric by the end of 2024. Already, 10 percent of its cars are EVs, with models from Tesla, Polestar, GM and others. The company expects to provide nearly 2 million EV rentals this year, about five times the number of EV rentals in 2022.
The goal is to own the largest EV rental fleet in North America and providing EV test drives to curious consumers is a key step to achieving its goal of accelerating the transition to EVs across America, according to Hertz. There’s a growing market of EV-curious consumers and Hertz is eager to cater to them. And AAA research shows the best way to ease concerns about range anxiety and charging infrastructure is to literally put people in the driver’s seat.
The booking process is just like renting a gas-powered car. After selecting the EV option, a renter can choose the model they’d like. Once the reservation is made, the experience differs.
To ease first-time EV renters into the drivers’ seat, Hertz sends a series of emails tailored to the specific vehicle that go over the basics as well as what to expect in terms of the quieter ride, performance, how to shift into gear or park, what regenerative braking is all about, and so on.
The emails are rich with links for deeper dives into the particular EV’s quirks, such as how to engage with climate controls, how to turn on the hazard lights, or what everything displayed on the instrument cluster means.
“In addition to a knowledgeable staff who are well-equipped to assist our customers, we provide a variety of information and resources on how to drive and charge an EV, so people feel comfortable and confident when hitting the road,” Smith said.
Perhaps the most important topic on the minds of EV tryers is how – and where – to charge an EV. Although Hertz only requires rented EVs to be returned with more than 70 percent battery life remaining, many renters hope to try out charging, in addition to EV driving. Hertz responds with detailed explanations on how to charge each model in its fleet in addition to finding public charging locations using in-car systems. The company even gives a thorough explanation of the differences between Level 1, Level 2 and DC fast charging.
Based on the emails and resources on the Hertz website, an EV renter will get a thorough education on EVs and EV charging even before they get in and buckle up for the first time.
So, if you’re interested in driving an EV but don’t know where to start, a rental might be the perfect way to get up to speed with EVs.
AAA’s Recommendation: Whether you own an electric vehicle or a gas-powered car is up to you – and you should consider lots of factors in making that choice. No matter what type of vehicle you’re choosing, we recommend visiting a dealership, test driving one, and asking as many questions as possible to make an informed decision.