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EV Rentals Not Popular

Range anxiety is cited as the reason why rental car drivers are passing on the chance to try out an electric vehicle.

The limited range of electrics is generally accepted as the reason why people just aren't lining up for them. They definitely have our interest, but the potential inconvenience is affecting both EV sales and rentals. People worry that the car's battery will die before they can get to a charging station. It's an even bigger problem with rentals, as those customers typically rent vehicles in unfamiliar places.

There are about 140,000 plug in electric vehicles on the road in the U.S. today, far short of President Obama's goal of one million by 2015.

Enterprise, the largest car rental agency in the U.S. says that people who rent an electric vehicle often return it mid contract, and swap it for a conventionally powered vehicle. The company says that people are keen to try an EV but that the range anxiety causes stress. At Enterprise, the average length of an #EV rental is only 1.6 days, compared to 6 or 7 days for a gasoline powered vehicle. In it's fleet, they have 300 electric cars available, only 40 percent of the target they originally set in 2010 when it ordered 500 Nissan Leaf plug-in electrics.

Also in 2010, competitor Hertz expected to have 500 to 1,000 EVs in their fleet a year later, including Nissan Leafs and Chevy Volts. The company is no where near that goal due to lower than anticipated customer interest.

In Orlando, Florida, the world's largest car rental market, Enterprise rents out the Leaf for about $55 per day, which is the same price as comparable conventional vehicles. In Los Angeles, that same Leaf will run about $140 per day.

Enterprise also offers the Tesla Model S as part of it's Exotic Car Collection, for about $300 to $500 per day. Hertz too offers the Tesla, within it's Dream Cars program for $500 per day alongside conventional Ferrari and Viper sports cars. Tesla rentals through these programs are considered "unique experiences" rather than as a daily driver.

Aside from the Tesla Model S, which has a range of about 483 km, most electric vehicles are drained in less than 160 km. Enterprise's Leaf is rated for about 120 km. Until affordable larger batteries are available, it's unlikely that the electric vehicle won't really take off. More public charging stations are needed as well.

While growth is slower than expected, the car rental companies are continuing to move forward and buy more electric vehicles, placing them wherever demand does exist. It is thought that as people try electric cars and get comfortable with them, interest will increase.

By Linda Aylesworth - autoExpert.ca

 

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