Electric Car Range Anxiety

October 21, 2013

Rental car drivers aren't plugging into electric vehicles (EVs), largely because of fears the batteries will die. In fact, people who drive off in electric vehicles from Enterprise Holdings Inc., the biggest U.S. auto renter, often bring them back to trade for a car that runs on gasoline, says Bloomberg.

Limited range is holding up demand for electric vehicles nationwide, both in rentals and sales. "People are very keen to try it, but they will switch out of the contract part way through," Lee Broughton, head of sustainability at Enterprise, said in an interview. "Range anxiety makes them think they can't get to a charging station."

  • About 140,000 plug-in EVs are on U.S. roads, short of PresidentBarack Obama's goal for 1 million of the cars by 2015, data from the Electric Drive Transportation Association shows.
  • Hertz Global Holdings Inc. said in 2010 it would have 500 to 1,000 electric vehicles in its fleet by 2011, including Nissan's Leaf andGeneral Motors' Chevrolet Volt.
  • It's fallen short of that goal because of lower-than-expected customer interest, according to Paula Rivera, a spokeswoman for the company.

Consumers are unlikely to show more interest in renting electric cars until they can go farther before topping up the battery, especially given the lack of public charging stations, said Enterprise's Broughton.

Apart from Tesla's Model S, which has a maximum range of about 300 miles (483 kilometers), most electric vehicles run out of juice in less than 100 miles. The Leaf models in Enterprise's fleet are rated for about 75 miles.

Source: Ehren Goossens, "Electric Car Rentals Stalled in U.S. by Range Anxiety," Bloomberg, October 14, 2013.

 

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