by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Rental car customers say they are receiving electric vehicles that they did not sign up for, with little to no warning from the rental companies. In some cases, it causes major headaches if they lack experience driving or charging an electric car or can’t locate chargers along their travel route.
The Washington Examiner spoke to several people who booked generic or standard rental cars online through major U.S. rental companies — Hertz, Avis, and Budget — but were given electric vehicles instead. It’s also a topic of complaint on review sites and social media.
When Richard H., a software company owner from Oregon, touched down in Minneapolis for a work trip in June, he grabbed his luggage and proceeded to head to the airport Hertz terminal, where his prebooked car was waiting.
Richard, a president’s circle member at Hertz, had selected the generic vehicle online and was only slightly surprised when he saw he’d been assigned a Chevy Bolt rather than a traditional gas-powered car. Driving an electric can come with a bit of a learning curve, but as the owner of a plug-in hybrid himself, he was no stranger to the charging infrastructure or the many subscription-based apps by which drivers can find nearby compatible chargers.
He felt confident in his knowledge of the electric vehicle landscape as he pulled out of the airport lot.
But by the time he returned the car just four days later, the car was nearly out of power, and he was singing a very different tune.
Recounting the experience in an interview months later, Richard says he was struck by the total lack of available charging capacity. His hotel had chargers, but they were only for Teslas. And while one customer site he traveled to did have compatible chargers, they were restricted to employees with preregistered company accounts.