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

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  • murdoch
    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
    Message 1 of 3 , Jul 19, 2013
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      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
      this:

      http://www.avis.com/car-rental/content/display.ac?contentId=volt-US_en-025575
      "....•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....
      assumptions.

      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.
    • MarketMole
      A thought came to mind reading your post: do car rental companies make deals with car manufacturers to promote certain makes and models? Does driving a rental
      Message 2 of 3 , Jul 19, 2013
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        A thought came to mind reading your post: do car rental companies make
        deals with car manufacturers to promote certain makes and models? Does
        driving a rental vehicle influence the eventual purchase of a vehicle?
        Would car mfg companies have influence over rental companies and what they
        offer? All questions that may have an impact on your query.

        I did a quick search around Portland PDX for renting an EV or Hybrid of any
        kind, something I would have thought would be a natural in this area.
        Couldn't find a one. This is like Prius central up here, but not for
        rentals it seems. I'll have to search a bit harder to see just how absent
        EVs really are in the rental space up here.

        MM



        On Fri, Jul 19, 2013 at 10:57 AM, murdoch <murdoch@...>wrote:

        > **
        >
        >
        > 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
        > this:
        >
        >
        > http://www.avis.com/car-rental/content/display.ac?contentId=volt-US_en-025575
        > "....�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....
        > assumptions.
        >
        > 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.
        >
        >
        >


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • murdoch
        Thanks for your points. I think the relationships may still be there to some extent. There was a time when some Detroit automakers simply owned some rental
        Message 3 of 3 , Jul 21, 2013
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          Thanks for your points.

          I think the relationships may still be there to some extent. There
          was a time when some Detroit automakers simply owned some rental
          assets, but I'm not sure that's the relationship any more. In any
          event, if I spend time looking at the major auto rental companies,
          they seem, across all of them, to offer a decent selection across most
          or all of the major auto names I expect, including some European
          luxury rentals here and there.

          Your initial Portland experience is in-line with my consternation and
          initial experience in trying to rent in Tucson, Providence, and one or
          two other Northeastern locations. I have found some hybrids here or
          there, but the idea of trying to rent a PHEV was a joke and also a
          considerable use of my time to get on the phone and persist and try to
          track down the issue. The main players here are just not acting like
          they care to do business in PHEV rental in most areas.

          I did receive private feedback from one person that the turnaround
          time issue is real - going, say, by experiences of past rental
          places.... but I think this would not preclude some PHEVs such as the
          Toyota PPI... which have shorter recharge times... from being rented
          out if some rental agencies are supposedly standing on that particular
          issue.

          [Default] On Fri, 19 Jul 2013 12:58:07 -0700, MarketMole
          <marketmole@...> wrote:

          >A thought came to mind reading your post: do car rental companies make
          >deals with car manufacturers to promote certain makes and models? Does
          >driving a rental vehicle influence the eventual purchase of a vehicle?
          >Would car mfg companies have influence over rental companies and what they
          >offer? All questions that may have an impact on your query.
          >
          >I did a quick search around Portland PDX for renting an EV or Hybrid of any
          >kind, something I would have thought would be a natural in this area.
          >Couldn't find a one. This is like Prius central up here, but not for
          >rentals it seems. I'll have to search a bit harder to see just how absent
          >EVs really are in the rental space up here.
          >
          >MM
          >
          >
          >
          >On Fri, Jul 19, 2013 at 10:57 AM, murdoch <murdoch@...>wrote:
          >
          >> **
          >>
          >>
          >> 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
          >> this:
          >>
          >>
          >> http://www.avis.com/car-rental/content/display.ac?contentId=volt-US_en-025575
          >> "....•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....
          >> assumptions.
          >>
          >> 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.
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >
          >
          >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >
          >
          >------------------------------------
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