EV Curiosity: How to Rent an Electric Car

Electric vehicles in a public parking lot on a street stock photo

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Good news for US motorists – the national median price of regular gasoline has finally fallen below $4 a gallon after months of record-breaking costs.

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Gasoline, however, is still expensive (the US average as of August 15 is $3,956 per AAA), prompting more drivers to consider electric vehicles (EVs) as a cheaper alternative.

Shortages of cars, including rental cars, have been widespread during the pandemic, but rental companies have managed to restock cars and trucks to meet demand when people travel again. Car rental companies are also stocking more electric vehicles than ever before.

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Renting an electric car

Most major rental companies claim to rent electric models — but rental EVs may not be easy to find, according to Tom’s Guide and The Points Guy.

As Tom’s Guide points out, Hertz recently led the way by adding “tens of thousands of Tesla and Polestar 2 cars,” and others are beginning to offer a wider range of models in their inventories after reducing inventory during the pandemic to have.

Currently, Avis advertises the Toyota Prius hybrid, Kia Niro EV and Tesla Model 3 as available options on its website, while National lists the Polestar 2, Nissan LEAF and Ford Fusion hybrid models, as well as Toyota Prius. Hertz-owned rental companies Dollar and Thrifty came up empty in a recent search for EV options.

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But you don’t have to go to a big rental company to rent an electric vehicle. Dealers often have fleets of rental cars and some, like Nissan and Toyota, have electric or hybrid cars for rent.

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Additionally, carsharing companies like Turo are quickly adapting with the times by offering a variety of electric vehicles to choose from depending on where you pick one up. Turo features all Tesla types, as well as the Chevy Bolt EV, Polestar 2, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Rivian R1T, and Hyundai’s Kona EV available at various locations.

It may be a better idea to call a dealership, rental car company or car sharing company (or search online using an aggregator like Kayak, Priceline, AutoRentals or similar) and rely on details than relying solely on an online booking to leave. Personal inquiry may also be helpful where possible, but comparison shopping may be more difficult in such circumstances.

Charging your EV rental car

Charging infrastructure can be sparse in some locations and should be considered when renting an electric vehicle.

Apps like Plugshare, Chargehub and Chargeway locate the nearest charging station and even tell you what types of plugs are available. The government’s alternative gas station locator app – also a great tool – looks up locations by charging stations and the type of fuel required.

Any rental agency or dealership you do business with may be able to provide guidance on what type of charger and station you need and how to operate your rental car. Many EV brands use the CCS (Combined Charging System) standard and stations usually adapt to this standard among others.

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However, some don’t, so it may be worth doing a little research, especially if you have a specific preference as to which electric vehicle to hire. For example, the Nissan LEAF uses the CHAdeMO fast charging connector for DC charging, but also has connectors for standard Level 1 and Level 2 home charging. Tesla, perhaps the most well-known EV manufacturer in the world, also uses proprietary Supercharger stations for Level 3 (DC) charging, although universal options are provided for Level 1 and Level 2 charging.

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About the author

David Nadelle is a freelance editor and writer based in Ottawa, Canada. After 18 years in the energy industry, he decided to change careers in 2016 and focused on all aspects of writing full-time. He is a recent graduate in Technical Communications and has prior degrees in Journalism, Sociology and Criminology. David has covered a variety of finance and lifestyle topics for numerous publications and has writing experience for the retail industry.

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