By on October 15, 2013


Tis better to own a Leaf or an S than to rent one, it seems. According to Enterprise Holdings Inc., known for driving around in cars wrapped in branded brown paper for some reason, customers who rent electric-only vehicles from their lot soon return their sustainable rides for a one with a sustainable range based on the number of (gasoline and diesel) fuel stops along the way.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Enterprise Head of Sustainability Lee Broughton note that while customers were “keen” to give electric power a go, range anxiety led many a renter to return the car for one where they know the infrastructure is there to meet. On average, a renter will spend almost two days with an electric-only car versus a week with a conventional road warrior. Currently, the St. Louis-based rental car business has 300 electric cars in their overall fleet, all Nissan Leafs. The figure is down 40 percent from the target of 500 of the cars set by Enterprise back in 2010.

Despite the overall lack of demand in this emerging rental market due to lack of infrastructure and larger-capacity batteries for extended range, competitor Hertz added the Tesla S to its Dream Cars lineup in September for their customer base in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The daily rate to feel like Elon Musk is $500; Enterprise offers the S in their Exotic Car Collection for $300 to $500 in the same locations, with three currently in the lineup available. The Leaf offered by Enterprise goes for $55 to $140 a day depending on location.

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33 Comments on “Still Not Ready For The Rental Counter: EV Rentals Fail To Thrive...”

  • avatar

    I’d rent an EV if the hotel I’m staying at had a charger hookup. Most of my business trips involve driving only a few miles between the airport, hotel, customer location and various local eatery / bars so an EV makes sense. But at $500 a day it doesn’t.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The rental business has to cater to the lowest common denominator in terms of customers. Renting EVs is a fool’s errand for both the company and the customer.

    It took me days just to begin figuring out how my Leaf worked. I’d never expect an uncommitted newbie to feel comfortable with an EV.

  • avatar

    You’re traveling for work, you don’t want to be, your flights were botched, a 300-lb. blue-shirted decerebrate spit truculent “verbage” at you as he cupped your nuts, you’ve never much driven in this city and it’s construction season. And you have diarrhea.

    Oh, yeah… NOW is the time to try a car from Mars.

  • avatar

    “On average, a renter will spend almost two days with an electric-only car versus a week with a conventional road warrior”

    This could simply mean that week-long renters plan to travel widely where charging station locations are uncertain, while local and shorter-term renters can deal with the charging issue. Only if weekly renters are returning an EV 2 days into their rental to get an ICE would that indicate that renters are too troubled by charging to keep the EV.

  • avatar


    Who wrote this? Admit it!

    Seriously, these cars rent as part of the prestige collection (along with SLs and Aston Martins, etc.) for +$500 a day. You don’t think the typical renter is renting to try it and then trading it in for a 300 or an Avalon for $89 a day for the rest of his trip?

  • avatar

    McKinsey performed a study of Japanese EV owners in Japan. Japan had some aggressive EV subsidies that encouraged a subset of EV buyers who were more motivated by the low cost than by the technology.

    Not surprisingly, the research found that those buyers who were lured by the subsidies were less tolerant of the flaws (range and recharge time) than the diehards who were commmitted to EVs for their own sake.

    I’m sure that this same dichotomy is applicable to most other drivers in the developed world. The hardcore fans reinforce their devotion to the technology by communing with each other in their echo chambers, convincing themselves that the limitations are no big deal. But most buyers aren’t interested, and efforts to expand the market too much with the use of subsidies will have the effect of exposing the cars to buyers who will have buyers remorse when the realities of day-to-day ownership set in.

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting…..that’s the second time the word “committed” was used in the comments about this article.

      For some reason it reminds me of the pig in the Chicken and Pig story, and not in a good, tasty nitrate-free bacon way.

      I’ve considered renting a Leaf but we don’t use Enterprise at work, but no doubt for $500 a pop at Hertz I’ll be in the Aston WELL before I’m in the Tesla.

      Guess I’m not committed enough. shrug.

  • avatar

    So you say a $500/day rental car does not have many sales whne the same lot rents you $29/day Minivans?

    And someone renting is in a foreign city, stays a t hotel etc. and doesn’t know the local charging infrastructure and can’t charge at home (=hotel).

    wow, which MBA came up with the businesplan that $500/day EVs would be a success.

    When I rent a car it is either just for very basic transportation (the $29/day dodge Neon suffices), or becasue i want to go thousands of miles on someone else’s dime. both not a good thing for expensvie EVs.

    the only other reason to rent is to make donuts on the parking lot, but at $500 i rahter make donuts with my $29/day beater.

  • avatar

    the issue with the Leaf is the price. @$55/day, I’m gonna have a really hard time making up the cost difference between a Leaf and a compact car which rent’s for maybe half that in fuel costs.

    • 0 avatar

      That wouldn’t be the point of renting an EV.

      What’s the payback on renting a convertable? Same idea.

      • 0 avatar

        You rent a convertible for the theoretical fun to drive factor or because it makes for a more special or fun time on the vacation. Nissan Leaf’s don’t do anything a Focus can’t do, and aren’t any nicer, so why would I pay a lot more for a car that comes with range anxiety and doesn’t add anything to the driving experience (or riding) experience, and who’s only benefit is the fact that I don’t have to put gas in the tank?

        • 0 avatar

          Nissan Leaf’s don’t do anything a Focus can’t

          They make an all electric Focus?

          • 0 avatar

            Uh . . . yes.

          • 0 avatar

            haha Ar-Pharazon. +1. A Leaf doesn’t ride nicer, isn’t more upscale, isn’t quicker, isn’t more spacious, and isn’t more fun to drive (all the standard reasons people would pay more for a rental) than a Focus, so it’s only trump card is the fact that it doesn’t use any gas, which is only an advantage if it saves you $.

  • avatar

    I worked in rental from 2003-10. While my time directly on the rental counter was brief (thankfully) I will say I saw enough…misunderstandings….of how basic vehicle features work to say that yeah, mass ev rentals are probably a long way off. I remember when we got the Prius it was a big deal. Joe Renter thought, hey cool, a prius, heard a lot about this car. Until they couldn’t figure out how to drive it (is it on?). Then back to the counter they came for a “normal” car. The average renter is either on vacation or business and does not want to be bothered with learning how something new works. I would, however, rent one for a weekend.

    • 0 avatar

      @ Tim_Turbo – I’ve seen the same thing (I’ve worked part time at an airport FBO and we were able to rent cars directly to our customers). Hybrids have caused confusion, but so have cars with various forms of comfort access, and (amusingly) cars without fuel door switches inside. I have rented a Prius for the novelty factor and to see what sort of mileage I could get with it. I’d only rent one again if I could get it for a discount rate. Just like with the Leaf, it doesn’t pay for itself in gas savings vs a compact, so no reason for me to rent one.

      • 0 avatar

        In the Spring of 2008 my greenie client had a Prius waiting for me at the rental counter at SFO. It was 11pm and after a 5 hour flight I was exhausted and, yes, could not figure out how to start the thing. I went back in and, yes, asked for a “real car”…I’m a car guy like all of you and I’ve driven everything from 2 cyl Citroens to Model A Fords to a Fiat X 1/9 to countless rental fodder but didn’t have the patience or interest to learn the joys of the Prius (and still don’t). Much less pay a premium to do so.

        Having said that, I’d be interested in driving a Tesla Model S just to try it.

        BTW – Back in the 80s as a student I worked for Avis and even then we’d get a lot of confused customers. But I can see it would be much harder harder now, without question, given most new cars’ learning curves, esp. at the higher end.

  • avatar

    I watched a new Zeitgeist movie which suggested a circular society living in socialism which didn’t own cars, but rented them (ala Zip Car) and only used them when absolutely necessary. Electric cars getting energy from renewable sources.

    If that’s what the future looks like- COUNT ME OUT.

    Capitalism till I DIE. And don’t touch my cars…

  • avatar

    Once a blue moon work will send me to other plants, when they do they let me rent any vehicle and pay all costs.

    Why would I chose an EV over a Yukon, which work is mainly the only circumstance I rent, (and vacation, but then comfort is key) I get more space, better visibility, and I don’t embarrass myself asking for an extension cord.

  • avatar

    The lack of range wouldn’t faze me. What would is whatever obscene markup that would be demanded for not bringing the car back with a full charge.

  • avatar

    I would rent one just because I could, for grins and giggles, if you like… But it would not make sense, financially.

  • avatar

    What kind of idiots are paying these prices? It would be cheaper to buy a car and sell it when you are done with your trip and I am only half kidding about that.

  • avatar

    140 for Leaf of 19.99 for Versa. Hmmm, choices choices.

    Meantime, children in Africa are dying from hunger.

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