To help people transition to electric vehicles, what if you start with rental cars? That’s the theory of a collaboration between rental car company Hertz Global Holdings Inc. and the city of Denver.
A public-private partnership dubbed Hertz Electrifies will bring some 5,200 rental EVs to the city as part of an effort to ease some of the challenges of electrification.
Hertz plans to market the electric vehicles as try-before-you-buy, meaning interested residents can spend a few days experiencing electric car life before making a more permanent commitment.
The rental car company will also fund and oversee the installation of dozens of public EV chargers at Denver International Airport and other spots around the city, working with EV charging network BP Pulse.
For Denver officials, the partnership’s most important component is that Hertz will provide data that could help the city decide where more public EV chargers are needed the most, and in what quantity. That’s because the rental cars will be equipped with telematics systems, which collect and transmit GPS and a range of other data so officials know where electric vehicles are being driven.
“Building out our EV charging infrastructure is a key component of our own EV adoption goals as a city, and this data will help inform on where that infrastructure will be needed the most,” said city of Denver spokesperson Mike Strott.
Hertz also plans to develop a pipeline of skilled workers for the industry, offering summer job opportunities through Denver’s Youth Employment Program and providing EVs, tools and training to Montbello Career and Technical High School for students enrolled in its auto certificate program. “These are people later down the line that we’d want to work for us,” said Hertz Chief Executive Officer Stephen Scherr.
In addition to helping Denver reach its goal of an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050, Strott hopes the initiative will help create good-paying future jobs in Denver.
For Hertz, the partnership is one part of an ambitious plan to electrify its fleet. In 2021, it made the single-largest purchase to date of electric vehicles when it bought 100,000 EVs from Tesla. Hertz, which currently has a total of 40,000 electric vehicles in its US rental fleet, is in talks to launch similar partnerships with other major cities, Scherr said, but he declined to provide specifics.
Renting a car, he said, allows users to not just try out how the car drives and feels, but also to try out the charging experience — a totally new kind of car management for people used to visiting gas stations. “This is a new technology,” he said. “It comes with the usual and expected anxiety.”
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