Hertz electric-car rental press event, New York City, September 2010Enlarge Photo
Does electric car rental work as a business proposition?
That might depend on who you ask. Because despite popular rental company Hertz having massive success with the format, backed up by other popular schemes like Car2Go, things aren't so rosy for Enterprise.
That seems odd, given that Enterprise isn't only making efforts to educate customers--just as it did when the company first started offering hybrid vehicles--but it's even making the cars available in areas full of what Enterprise calls the "Eco-curious".
That means drivers in urban locations, often Gen X and Millenials, and interested in greener transportation. So why aren't they going for the Leaf? And why aren't Hertz, Car2Go and others having the same problems?
Hertz has been bullish about its success with electric cars. In October last year, it claimed that if the factories could produce them, it would take another two or three thousand EVs to add to its small fleet of 50.
Some of that is down to the cars' success with corporate customers. For short-distance travel, Hertz reckons that companies much prefer to put their employees in an electric car--particularly if the company has clear sustainability plans. It's also a good way for the companies to trial electric vehicles before taking the plunge with their own fleet.
While Enterprise seems to be present in the right locations--major cities like New York, Austin and Phoenix--perhaps its focus on private individuals isn't capturing the core market of businesses?
We've seen that short-term car rental can work perfectly for individuals with Car2Go, whose fleet of smart fortwo electric drive cars is proving extremely popular in cities like San Diego.
With Enterprise seemingly taking a middle ground between Car2Go's short-term rentals and Hertz's business-led approach, it could suggest that a less-traditional take on car rental could be the way to go when it comes to electric cars.