As the days get longer and warmer, you might be dreaming of a summer road trip. Driving is a great way to see the country, and if you want to be climate-conscious, you might want to rent an electric vehicle (EV). An EV uses an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine. It’s powered by a large battery pack (no gas!) that needs to be recharged.
In addition to saving at the pump, EVs are more environmentally friendly than regular cars: EVs have no tailpipe emissions and reduce air pollution, and they don’t use fossil-based fluids such as motor oil or other toxic chemicals, which can end up in the environment.
“Renting an EV is a great way to experience this new technology in a way that allows you to see what it’s like without having to buy one,” says Greg Bannon, director of automotive engineering and industry relations at the American Automobile Association (AAA).
If you’re considering an EV for your next vacation, here’s what you need to know before you hit the road.
Renting and charging an EV
Bannon says more car rental companies are incorporating EVs into their fleets, so finding one is much easier than it was a few years ago — and they’re priced to encourage consumers to give them a try. Major rental companies, including Hertz, Enterprise and Avis, offer EVs. Turo, which is like Vrbo for cars, also offers EVs across the country.
Hertz, which has the largest EV fleet in North America, forecasts renting nearly 2 million EVs this year — five times the number of rentals in 2022 — and aims to have one-quarter of its fleet electric by the end of 2024. “Our electric vehicles are priced about the same as other cars in our fleet that are of a similar make, model and class,” says Laura Smith, executive vice president of global sales and customer experience for Hertz.
If you’re going to rent an EV, you need to decide whether to get a Tesla, the biggest seller of EVs (which has its own charging network), or another brand such as Polestar, Nissan LEAF and BMW (and use a public network).
Aside from Tesla, the largest DC (direct current) open charging network in the United States is Electrify America. DC chargers (also known as level 3), often found along the highway, are the fastest type and can charge an EV to 80 percent in 20 minutes to an hour.
How you pay depends on where you charge your car. With Hertz, if you charge at a Tesla station, the fees are charged to the credit card you used to rent the car. If you are at a third-party charging station, you swipe a credit or debit card at the station.