Hertz electric-car rental press event, New York City, September 2010
Electric cars are becoming more commonplace on motorways around the world, especially in Europe where there are many urban cities that don’t require people to drive long distances. However, Nissan is starting to understand that the consumers may have “range-anxiety” do to the 80-100 mile limitation of the 2011 Nissan Leaf. Since the current technology won’t allow for a longer range on the battery power, the solution that is currently being studied by Nissan is a free rental car program for Leaf owners that have to travel more than the 80-100 mile estimated range.
If you are thinking that this is a concern that originated in the U.S., the home of the open road and cross-country road trips, you would be mistaken. According to Nissan North America spokesperson Katherine Zachary, the free rental car program idea is only being studied at the current time and concerns markets other than the United States. The primary consideration is actually for markets like Europe where the average household doesn't own more than one car. You can see the issue; if you buy one car for your family, and only one car, and it can’t go more than 80-100 miles, that could be pretty limiting. This is especially true given a full recharge can take up to eight hours nor is there a large infrastructure yet of quick charge facilities.
Since the rental car idea is only being studied, there aren’t any details on how the program might work or what kind of restrictions would be put in place. It also isn’t clear if this is really an avenue that Nissan wants to go down. According to Automotive News, “Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has maintained that the Leaf is not intended for all driving needs.” They go on to say, “When it goes on sale in selected markets in the United States in December, Nissan dealers will be expected to direct customers who routinely drive long distances away from the Leaf.”
Bottom line—the range of an electric vehicle and the reservations some consumers about the range has merit. If it didn’t, Nissan wouldn’t be studying a rental program to allay consumer doubt.
Stay tuned for more on the 2011 Nissan Leaf and other small cars of every shape, size and powertrain right here at AllSmallCars.com.