Earlier this week Hertz announced that it was going big on electric, ordering a huge number of Tesla cars to add to its electric fleet. 100,000 cars will arrive in Hertz locations by the end of 2022, with the first batch of Tesla Model 3s arriving in the U.S. and Europe this November.
According to Hertz, these cars will make up 20% of its fleet, though it has since been revealed that half those cars will be available for Uber drivers to rent (opens in new tab). Still, no matter how you look at it, the fact one of the biggest car rental companies in the world is betting big on EVs can only be a good thing for electrification.
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Electrification is coming, whether some people like it or not, but that’s going to involve an awful lot more than people buying electric cars for personal use. It’s going to require a huge shift in the way businesses use cars as well.
There will have to be a point where car rental companies will have to acquire a fleet of EVs. Even if it’s only due to local laws preventing the sale of new gas-powered cars, and EVs are the only way to replace cars as they are retired.
While Hertz’s move isn’t exactly bold, this is a big deal. Hertz is one of the biggest car rental companies in the world, and the Teslas it purchased are set to be available to rent in both the United States and Europe.
Obviously, there are plenty of benefits for Hertz. It gets the attention for placing such a large order of Teslas, and gets a head start electrifying its fleet with some of the world’s most popular electric cars. After all, Tesla isn’t known for being quick to deliver, and customers often have to wait months before they can take delivery of their new car.
At the time of writing some of Tesla’s cars have wait times of almost a year. Long Range Model X cars aren’t expected until next September, while the Standard Range Plus Model 3, Tesla’s cheapest model currently on sale, isn’t due until next June.
So any competing car rental firms are going to have to wait a long time if they want to follow Hertz’s example and purchase their own fleet of Teslas.
But most importantly this move could put more people behind the wheel of an electric car for the first time. After all, EVs are expensive compared to gasoline cars, which limits their popularity. But rental cars don’t have that problem, and I would wager there are people willing to give an EV a try if given the option. Especially if they know it’s only a short-term deal
That doesn’t solve the issue of people who are against driving an electric car for other reasons, like concerns over range anxiety. But these sorts of changes take time, and nothing is going to force everyone to change their mind overnight.
At the very least the fact Hertz has initially purchased Teslas, rather than something a lot less interesting like a Nissan Leaf, may be enough to get some doubters behind the wheel.
Tesla has marketed itself as a luxury car company, and something of a status symbol, and if nothing else people may be willing to give it a try for the experience alone. It's like offering someone the keys to a Mercedes C Class when they’re used to driving a Honda Civic.
It’s not just about the cars — it's about charging
Renting out electric cars is all well and good, but Hertz is taking things a step further. It’s actually building its own network of EV chargers, thousands of them according to the announcement post.
More specific details aren’t entirely clear, other than the fact that the rental company has promised to build “thousands of chargers throughout its location network." There's no word on when they might be ready, where they might be located or any other key pieces of information.
But this is undoubtedly another good thing. EV charging infrastructure has improved a lot over the past few years, but there’s still a long way to go before chargers are as ubiquitous or convenient as a trip to the gas station.
The more chargers we have, the better it is for the growing number of EV drivers. And the more competition there is in the EV charging space, I’d hope it would spur other third-party charging networks to work to improve their own services. Ditching all the awkward companion apps would be a good start.
Of course, there are other EVs out there, and according to Bloomberg (opens in new tab) Hertz’s deal with Tesla is not exclusive. So the company can go off and buy other electric cars if it feels like it. Regardless, this is a great first step for the future of EVs.
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