More and more drivers are interested in electric vehicles, and some are taking one for a spin while on vacation, as EV rental cars. AAA’s rental car partner Hertz has been investing heavily in electric vehicles for its fleet with purchases from Tesla, Polestar, and GM. The company now has tens of thousands of EVs for rent at more than 1,600 locations in 44 states. Hertz hopes to provide nearly two million EV rentals by the end of this year-about five times the number of EV rentals it did in 2022.
Inspired in part by rising gas prices, consumers purchased more than 760,000 EVs in 2022, a 65% increase from 2021. Drivers regularly say that cost, range anxiety and availability of charging stations are some of their biggest concerns they have about giving up their traditional internal combustion vehicle for an EV.
Stats on EV Interest
A recent survey by Verra Mobility found:
- 78% of Americans would consider renting an EV as a way to get more familiar with the car before making a purchase.
A AAA survey released in 2020 found that driving an EV was the best way to alleviate concerns about them. Of the EV owners surveyed:
- 77% said they were less or no longer concerned about range after buying an EV.
- 96% said they would buy or lease another electric vehicle the next time they were in the market for a new car.
Many of those who are on the fence, or considering purchasing an electric vehicle, have been renting EVs to ‘kick the tires.’ It may be ‘test driving’ one for the weekend in town, or planning ahead and requesting an EV for a trip.
“Trying before buying has been around for generations, this is a bit of a new twist on it,” says Morgan Dean, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic in Virginia. “Renting an EV for the first time while on vacation, if you’re up for it, could be a great way to experience this new technology and get a real world feel for what it’s like to own one.”
Things for First-Time EV Drivers to Consider
Understand the Driving Range-The rental car agent should explain to you how far you can expect to go on a charge and how that changes depending on how many passengers you have and how much luggage and gear you are taking with you. It’s very important for drivers to pay close attention to the charge they have and to know how far they have to go to find a place to re-charge the vehicle. As many areas have seen some extreme heat here recently, a reminder that running the AC at full blast decreases an EVs range.
Finding and Booking a Charging Spot
Charging up an EV is very different than filling up a traditional vehicle. Researching charging locations and how to pay to charge a vehicle are important things to do before you rent. Some states and regions have many more charging opportunities than others. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are 142,342 charging ports at nearly 55,000 charging stations across the country. California leads the way on EV charging with nearly 15,000 charging stations and more than 40,000 outlets. In comparison, Virginia has nearly 1,200 charging stations and more than 3,200 outlets. Hertz has also installed more than 2,700 chargers at it’s locations to be able to charge the electric vehicles in its fleet. Some areas are much better equipped to handle EVs than others. Along with showing gas stations and current gas prices, the AAA app can also help you find charging stations near you and along your route.
Road Trips Take More Planning
If you’re renting the EV for a road trip at your destination, that requires a bit more planning. Charging stations are usually along the busiest routes, there are fewer charging options in areas off the beaten path. If your plans take you to remote locations, it’s important to make sure there are ample and available charging stations nearby. Making sure you’re covered for charging may change your route and your stops along the way.
Understand the technology on board the car. EVS are very different from internal combustion engines. The gauges will look very different and the on-board electronics may seem very unfamiliar to anyone who is new to EVs. Most EVs also come with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) like lane departure warnings, blind spot warnings, automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.
Acceleration and braking are also different with an electric engine. Knowing what the car can, and cannot do, is very important before hitting the road. A AAA Mid-Atlantic employee who recently rented an EV from Hertz while on a trip to California was happy to receive several emails from the rental company before she even traveled. She says the emails, focused on the Tesla’s special features, charging procedures, and braking technology, prepared her and her husband for driving and charging an EV for the first time on their family getaway.
“AAA travel advisors are happy to help you secure your EV car rental, airline, hotel and attraction reservations, and offer trip guidance for your destination,” adds Dean.
Don’t forget your AAA membership card while you’re traveling. Whether you’re driving something that uses gas or electricity, the membership offers peace of mind if you do have a breakdown along the road. Mobile charging for EVs for AAA members is now available in select cities across the USA.
Looking to learn more about EVs?
At AAA’s The Extra Mile, you can learn about Electric Vehicles: Facts and Myths. AAA’s annual car guide is out for 2023, and of the top ten vehicles across numerous categories, nine of them are electric.