Range anxiety is often discussed at great length in regard to electric vehicles. Range anxiety is the fear of running out of juice in an EV during an extended trip with no place to plug-in in sight. This anxiety, if not quickly overcome, could hamper the entire EV segment. Automakers have looked for solutions to the problem, but see few options. Until batteries provide range comparable to gas powered cars, until charging stations are as prominent as gas station, until drivers feel confident pushing an EV to its range limite, range anxiety will exist.
Domenick Yoney of AutoBlogGreen has presented a creative solution to this problem. Though EVs will meet the day to day range requirements of most Americans, what happens when you decide to head out for a family road trip? An EVs range will not make a long distance trip feasible, even with charging stations along the way. Consumers would have to resort to driving their other car, a gasoline powered car. This of course forces consumers to have two cars, a proposition that most American can not afford. How many people do you know that own more than 1 vehicle? Ownership of multiple vehicles is limited to the wealthy, the few, and not the masses.
Yoney suggests that EV makers include a rental car service in the vehicle contract. As he suggests, the buyers pay for rental service as part of the finances of the the EV they purchase. The program would work something like this. You purchase a Nissan Leaf for a certain amount of money. Wrapped into the purchase is the right to rent a vehicle for 10 days each year or 20 days each year. The days of included rental would be an option included with the vehicle. You decide how many days you want or need and they roll it right into the finance of the vehicle. The automaker hands you a coupon pack or vouchers for vehicle rental to use as needed.
This strategy would give buyers added comfort. Buyers would be able to freely rent a vehicle up to the amount of days listed on their contract. If they go over, they pay for the additional days out of pocket. This allows potential EV buyers the opportunity to get rid of their second car when purchasing an EV. Their second car now becomes the vehicle they choose from the rental company once or twice a year. Thus foregoing the monthly payments and insurance costs of the second vehicle.
Certainly some particulars would have to be worked out. How would the automaker pay the rental chain for use of the vehicle? How would you decide exactly how many days of use of rental service would be required each year? How long would the rental agreement last?
The small details could certainly be worked out. But this option looks enticing as a way to bring more of the mass market into the EV segment. We think Yoney may be onto something and perhaps automakers will listen. This option would be cheaper and mcuh more obtainable than installing millions of charging stations throughout the U.S. Or at least it could give automakers and utilities time to get the infrastructure in place while offering another option right now for EV buyers.