And but, curiosity in renting them is rising — particularly as gas prices continue to skyrocket — and rental corporations are responding accordingly. In October, Hertz introduced it was purchasing 100,000 Teslas. There was a gradual enhance of EVs on peer-to-peer rental platform Turo, too; Albert James Mangahas, chief information officer for Turo, says they went from a whole lot in 2014 to greater than 25,000 in 2021.
With a road trip on my agenda final weekend, I made a decision to hire an EV to Westchester, N.Y. — about 600 miles spherical journey. Going into it, I didn’t know what to anticipate on the associated fee or availability of leases, how I might discover locations to cost — it’s referred to as “vary anxiousness” — or if I may determine Tesla software program. That is what I discovered.
First lesson: It’s not at all times straightforward to search out an EV
Again in March, I attempted and failed to search out an EV rental with the choice to choose up in a single metropolis and drop off in one other. I even enlisted the assistance of a journey adviser and nonetheless struck out. Not one of the 4 corporations she referred to as had any obtainable, and even when they did, they didn’t enable one-way leases.
The issue: “It’s nonetheless not frequent but,” says Aaron Gessner, Detroit bureau chief at Cars.com. Despite the fact that EV producers need to promote to rental corporations, there’s a scarcity of automobiles due to excessive demand from consumers and supply-chain points.
That ought to get higher over time. Ed Peper, U.S. vice chairman for Normal Motors Fleet, says EV producers have a very good motive to get their automobiles to renters: publicity. “We’re assured that after shoppers get to expertise an EV for business or private use, they’re extra more likely to contemplate one,” Peper stated in an electronic mail.
I fared higher over Memorial Day weekend with Hertz. It currently has the Tesla Mannequin 3 sedan and Mannequin Y midsize SUVs and can quickly have Polestar 2 hatchbacks. As soon as Hertz had availability for my dates, I jumped on a reservation with out a lot procuring round; I felt burned from once I tried to order one in March. You would additionally strive looking out on Turo, or Enterprise, which affords choices together with the Tesla Mannequin 3, Nissan Leaf and Polestar 2. Avis advertises Teslas and the Kia Niro EV.
I selected the Mannequin 3, which seats 5 adults and has a driving vary of as much as 260 miles, relying on how briskly you’re going; larger speeds influence mileage. My three-day rental with insurance coverage got here to about $523. It wasn’t a giant distinction from a fuel-powered sedan — $420 with the identical insurance coverage — contemplating gasoline for the journey would have value practically $100. The one downside was that I may solely get it from Dulles Worldwide Airport in Virginia, which is about an hour from my D.C. condo.
I had gone over a few of Hertz’s Tesla FAQs about what it’s essential to know earlier than driving a Tesla, like tips on how to flip the automotive on and off and tips on how to use the cost port. However I used to be not well-versed within the expertise once I obtained the keys (I’m extra of a baptism-by-fire form of particular person; manuals are for emergencies).
“There can be a studying curve if you first get in,” Gessner had advised me. “Finally, individuals determine it out.”
The educational curve hit quick after I obtained the keys — or moderately, key card — to my blue Mannequin 3. I couldn’t open the door. I hovered the important thing card over elements of the automotive like I had seen on-line, however I had no success. I felt so much like a chimp trying to get into a computer. As I began Googling “tips on how to unlock a Tesla,” a Hertz worker appeared and confirmed me to faucet the important thing card on the passenger-door body, beneath a digicam I hadn’t observed. After which I used to be alone. The contact display directed me to faucet my key card on the console behind or within the cup holders and put the automotive into drive.
If you wish to really feel extra assured earlier than leaping into your EV rental, Gessner recommends watching tutorials from rental automotive corporations or producers. “And if in case you have questions, ask the rental-car individuals,” he says.
Adjusting to the expertise
The place you’ll discover a radio or small display on most automobiles, one can find an enormous touch-screen pill in a Tesla. It’s the heart of the automotive’s universe, the place you possibly can lookup charging stations, sync your smartphone, log into cell apps equivalent to Spotify, management the temperature, see your battery degree and examine how far you possibly can drive, amongst different features.
A few of that was complicated to navigate, however the automotive has a useful voice-control perform that operates like Siri or Alexa. You maintain down a button on the steering wheel and make your request. When rain began pouring, I requested the automotive to activate windshield wipers, and it obliged.
It was comforting to have my cellphone helpful to lookup different challenges I bumped into alongside the way in which, like tips on how to lock the automotive or discover the hazard lights.
There are different methods for charging EVs that vary from very gradual to very quick. You’ll need to lookup the specifics based mostly in your EV.
There are a number of methods to discover a charging station. For instance, AAA’s TripTik has a search perform for locating charging stations. Hotels.com has an amenity filter that enables customers to search out properties with on-site EV charging factors. Anybody can search on-line for Tesla’s 4,500-plus Destination Charging sites — equivalent to eating places, lodges or resorts — the place charging is usually free for those who’re a buyer.
Tesla has a network of greater than 30,000 Supercharger stations globally. The best strategy to discover them is thru the automotive’s Journey Planner, which calculates your route with Superchargers alongside the way in which. The software reveals stall availability at every station; you possibly can’t reserve a charging station prematurely.
The Tesla Supercharger can convey your battery as much as 200 miles in about quarter-hour. Most stations cost a price, which may rely in your electrical energy utilization and plug-in time (some have on-peak and off-peak charges). Should you cost your rental at a third-party station, you pay on the spot. With a Tesla station, Hertz fees the bank card related along with your rental.
I paid about $30 in charging charges over 4 fees. If you wish to understand how a lot your journey will value, you possibly can calculate estimates here.
Earlier than I began my drive, I plugged my vacation spot into the automotive’s GPS, and it routinely pulled up stations alongside my route. Figuring the automotive knew greatest, I accepted its first suggestion to drive to a charging station in Baltimore.
In hindsight, I regretted the early detour. I had simply began my drive, and the automotive wasn’t vulnerable to working out of battery. There could be loads of different stations that had been extra handy than this one in a metropolis.
Total, I made two cost breaks every manner from D.C. to New York — about 15 to twenty minutes per Supercharge.
Despite the fact that I knew I may cease simply alongside the route, “vary anxiousness” did nag me.
The Tesla rental expertise was largely simple. The automotive was intuitive sufficient to determine, with the assistance of the Web, and the charging infrastructure made it straightforward to search out stations.
My greatest transfer was to speak to different Tesla house owners forward of my journey. My brother-in-law warned me concerning the automotive’s means to speed up intensely, rapidly. A pal’s mother and father simply traveled throughout the nation of their Tesla and had no issues with charging. This recommendation gave me confidence for my first drive.