I was chatting with our CleanTechnica friend Kate Harrison of MoveEV about the current common dilemma of renting electric vehicles. Kate’s the co-founder of an AI-powered EV transition company that helps organizations convert fleet and employee-owned gas vehicles to electric and reimburse for charging at home. Kate sees great potential in helping new audiences learn about EVs, and she feels that, from apps to EV-friendly hotel brands, renting an EV for holiday travel is cost-effective and good for the planet.
With the visibility of more car rental companies like Hertz making the plunge into renting electric vehicles, Kate feels it makes sense to offer guidance to travelers who might consider an EV for their next road trip.
Here are her tips for renting electric vehicles for holiday travel.
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Plan ahead — Many rental companies like Hertz, Enterprise, and Avis now offer electric vehicle rentals. Hertz has grown to have the largest EV rental fleet in North America, offering cars like Polestar and Tesla, but that does not mean you will be able to get one. Make your EV rental reservation well in advance to ensure availability, especially during peak holiday travel season. Popular destinations and events may have high demand for electric vehicles, so booking early will help secure your rental.
Check for incentives — Look for incentives or discounts available for renting an electric vehicle with both rental car companies and major hotel brands. Hilton, Marriott, Holiday Inn, and Best Western all have free charging for guests driving EVs. Tesla owners can also charge their vehicles for free when staying at Radison hotels. The EV Hotels app can assist in finding hotel locations that offer EV charging. Rental car companies like Hertz and Avis are offering discounts on their base rates when you rent an EV. Some cities and regions offer promotional rates or perks for EV rentals, which can help you save money and enhance your experience.
Research charging infrastructure — Before renting an EV, research the availability and accessibility of charging stations in and around your destination area. Most modern EVs get between 200-300 miles when “full,” but, if you plan to do a lot of sight seeing, you will need to refill along the way. Make sure there are ample charging options along your planned routes and at your destination to avoid range anxiety. Some brands, like Tesla, have charging station maps built into their navigation system, but you can also use Google or a dedicated app. ChargeHub is a free app that helps EV drivers map charging stations along their route, offering more than 3,000 public charging locations and 9,700 private charging locations. Electrify America is another user-friendly app that maps where EV chargers are and provides real-time charger availability.
Find the charging port before you drive away — Unlike gas cars, EV charging ports are not consistently located in the same place on every make and model. Before you drive away, make sure you know where the car charging port is and how to open it. Also, look at the shape of the connection to identify the type of plug(s) the car uses. Many cars will have 2 connection options – one for level 1/level 2 chargers and one for DC fast chargers. If you have any questions, ask the rental car company for guidance.
Familiarize yourself with the EV’s features — If you have never driven an EV before, it is worth taking time to learn more about the car. Many EVs have regenerative braking, one pedal driving, and do not require you to turn the car off when you leave. Others feel more like a traditional gas car. Understanding what you are renting can help you maximize your driving range and efficiency and give you more confidence as you head off the lot.
Monitor weather conditions — Extreme temperatures can affect battery performance, reducing the driving range. Keep an eye on weather forecasts, and if temperatures are exceptionally high or low, take that into account when planning your trips and charging stops as you may need to charge more frequently. When possible, park your EV inside to protect its battery performance.
Be mindful of cabin temperature — Electric vehicles often have advanced climate control systems that can decrease battery range. In extreme temperatures, use the vehicle’s preheat or pre-cool feature while connected to a charger; this helps conserve battery power and extend your driving range.
Leave time to charge — If you have not been charging during your vacation, you will need to fill up the car before you return. Unlike refilling at a gas station, EV charging can take a while. DC fast charging is the quickest option, but even that can take 40-60 minutes to refuel if the car is near empty. Don’t get stuck paying extra fees because you have not left enough time to top off.
Final Thoughts about Renting Electric Vehicles
It is absolutely important to demystify charging and other aspects of all-electric transportation for people who are thinking about renting electric vehicles. Like any new experience, it takes a recipe of advanced planning, a methodical approach to problem-solving, and an attitude in which questions become learning opportunities.
“Book early, use apps like ChargeHub for route planning, and look for rental and hotel incentives,” Kate reminds new EV drivers. “Before leaving the lot, familiarize yourself with the vehicle’s range and charging method. Test out the regenerative braking and instant torque for a memorable ride.”
It’s a lot of fun to join in the world of electrifying everything, and understanding the basics will help new audiences to gain comfort when renting electric vehicles. “As long as you’re not planning a long road trip reliant on public charging,” Kate concludes, “renting an EV for holiday travel is an excellent opportunity to try this fun, innovative technology.”
Want to hear more about the MoveEV® platform that Kate co-founded? It includes 3 flagship products.
- ReimburseEV™ is enterprise software that accurately reimburses employees for the real costs of charging fleet vehicles at home with IRS-compliant receipts and no additional hardware needed.
- CommuteEV™ is an innovative green commuter benefits solution that encourages EV adoption and reduces the need for on-site charger installations.
- MoveEV also offers strategic advisory services to help optimize the transition of fleet- and employee-owned vehicles to electric with AdviseEV™.
Thanks, Kate, for sharing your tips with our CleanTechnica audience. Happy holidays to everyone.