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13724Is it harder than advertised to rent PHEVs around the US and the world?

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  • murdoch
    Jul 19, 2013
      bcc: various EV people and groups

      Hi everyone:

      I am located in Southern Arizona near Tucson. I have been very
      frustrated in my attempts to rent a PHEV. I'm already a Leaf driver
      and when I want to rent a car for longer drives and flexibility in
      unknown territory, then what I really want is a PHEV.

      I don't know why they're not offered in Southern Arizona, but I can't
      seem to find a single rental agency willing to rent out (at any price)
      a Volt or C-Max Energi or Fusion Energi or Prius Plug-in. Nothing.
      Total strike-out.

      Even when I recently went on a trip in Rhode Island and Massachusetts
      I was not able efficiently to identify and rent a PHEV (and spent a
      lot of time with agents on the phone checking various airports in the
      region, including NYC).

      Over the last few years we've seen promising-looking pitches like

      "....•Volt is available at participating locations in CA, TX, MI, NY,
      NJ, CT and DC. Quantities limited....."

      However, in the end, in reality, I question if the rental agencies are
      making a real effort to rent out these vehicles and build business in
      this area. Is this greenwashing or do they believe in renting out
      plug-in vehicles?

      The additionally irksome part of this is that the reasons I hear back
      from drivers and to some extent agencies do not ring true, and in
      several ways sound similar to the disingenuous or mistaken excuses as
      to why we didn't have PEVs in the late 90s:

      - they're too expensive (nonsense - a Prius Plug-in and C-Max Energi
      are not prohibitively more expensive than their HEV cousins, and even
      the ~$40k Fusion Energi and Volt are expensive-but-not-that-expensive
      compared to some of the vehicles I see rented out (including Mercedes,
      large luxury SUVs, etc.)

      - there's no demand. (really? how would they know this at those
      agencies and in those vast regions where they've never tried (at all)
      to rent them out? Sound familiar to anyone who followed the 1998-2003
      era EV efforts?). Those assuming "lack of demand" usually then go on
      to assume it must mean that drivers find them too expensive or too
      complicated or don't care that much about gas prices, or whatever....

      Note that as in California in 1998-2003, as now - I don't assume there
      is huge demand - I simply say that where renting the vehicles hasn't
      even been tried in a concerted and real way, then why assume nobody
      wants them? I guess the rather extraordinary popularity of the Volt
      amongst some drivers (and ratings places?) brings home that there
      seems to be a disconnect going on - mightn't such a popular car be of
      interest to some renters who have never driven it?

      - some rental agents may get confused and think someone will get
      stranded. There might be some confusion amongst some of the rental
      agents as to the fact that BEVs can result in strandings but PHEVs are
      the best answer to that issue and cannot experience a BEV type of
      stranding for lack of battery charge.

      - cost of L2 chargers and turnaround time (these just sound like
      excuses to me - I'd be glad to rent out a half-charged Toyota PPI and
      reserve it in advance if it takes a bit longer to prep).

      Anyway, I'm wondering if others have had similar frustration in trying
      to rent out PHEVs in certain regions. I realize they're probably
      fairly easy to rent in some areas.
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