Renting an electric car

Tried doing this over the weekend, rental car company was offering a discount and wanted to appeal to the tree-hugging side of me. Got a Nissan Leaf, handled well, just surprised that the charge went down from 85% to <20% in just 24 hours, didn’t think I drove more than 50 miles in this time. Was a rainy Saturday night, there was an office building with a few chargepoint stations next to my hotel, seemed convenient, downloaded the app so I could use it. Problem was that they wouldn’t accept my payment because I was not connected to the network. Tried driving to a different location but got the same thing. Realizing that I could get stranded if I did this much longer, I just drove the car back to the airport and used rideshare the rest of the weekend.

Now I can see why rental car companies are offering the discount - logistics of charging are a big pain for those who are not familiar with them. My BIL wants to get one, but he’s waiting for the price to come down as rental companies are dumping them left and right.

1 Like

I had a vastly different experience renting a Chevy Bolt. I drove about 150 miles from Burlington VT → Stowe → up around the mountains → back to Burlington over the course of two days. The charge went from 95% to about 50% in that time, and I didn’t even have to consider finding a station. And having no fuel to pay for saved me probably $20-$30 from having a gasoline car.


The Leaf doesn’t have the greatest range to start with, and they have a really simple BMS so the batteries tend to degrade more quickly than, say, Teslas do.

If you don’t own an EV, and are trying to download the app for whatever charging station and set up payment, you’re gonna have a bad time. I think this alone makes renting an EV sucky for most. I can’t believe they don’t allow you to just roll up and tap a credit card, but here we are. Oh, and Hertz at least makes you return it with at least 70% charge or something like that, seems to vary based on… things.

I rented a Tesla in Denver, but I have all the apps set up and booked a hotel with a charger, so it all worked out well.

1 Like

Yeah, agree about the credit card thing, even just being able to do this using cellular service and not have to figure out the hotspot thing would be better than the current situation.

But for rental car companies they really dropped the ball on customer service. Here’s your EV, good luck. At the very least they could have sent a “know this before you drive” email. They could even work out business deals with charging companies to have a card available in the car, just swipe it on the scanner and you’ll be good to go, charge the customer a convenience fee for it and profit.


Hertz sent me some videos to watch. Since I own an EV I ignored that email so I don’t know how helpful they are or were.

Agree 100% on charging, they really dropped the ball by doing nothing and hoping people, many of whom don’t own an EV, would just figure it out.


I think temperature can have an impact on how fast the battery will discharge (in addition to other considerations mentioned regarding Leaf vs. other EV’s).

i was offered an EV in the last year. since I have no experience with them i was like “hell no!” i will learn someday, but didn’t have the bandwidth to do that amid a trip when it was unplanned.

Sorry to hear that. I’m surprised that the Nissan Leaf is offered, as it has such a limited range.

A couple of months ago, I rented a car from Budget in Albany, NY. I pre-ordered the Manager’s Special (the cheapest option). When I arrived, they said, “Here’s your car - a Jeep Wrangler”.

I asked “Anything else?”

“Nope. That’s all we have available, sorry”

“Do you have any EVs?”

“Oh, we have plenty of those. We just got in a really nice one”.

So I ended up with a Kia EV6. It had excellent range and I really enjoyed the regen braking (one pedal driving). Not quite as smooth a drive as our VW ID.4 but I would be happy to rent again. It helped a lot though, that I knew where to charge, including a free solar-powered charger within walking distance of our hotel.

There are plenty of chargers out there, but it sucks for first-time users that it’s such a pain to load and use the app and doesn’t let you just tap your credit card like a gas station.

1 Like

I think regen braking is one reason that I get nauseous when my aunt drives me around in her Tesla, though I believe it’s more to do with the tight suspension.

My wife says she gets a touch of nausea sometimes in my Tesla. She is still working on a theory but her best guess is that it’s the quick acceleration with zero warning. ICE cars come with those sounds that kind of let you know what is going on, power wise. EVs just go with no warning, no accompanying sound.

Renting an EV seems like a bad idea, without a lot of information about location of chargers and prices of the juice, and required frequency of charging.

Especially for people who are slow to adapt.

I have only used a public charger once, and i had to call the 800 number to get a session started (1st time set up/charger menu issues). I don’t have the experience to have confidence charging a rental will be a quick set up, so for a tightly time constrained trip i wouldn’t likely use an ev.

The 85 to sub 20 for 50 miles in a leaf is unexpected, even for a 40kW battery size. That would be 80+(85?)mph the entire distance for my car.

OK, now what is slow to adapt? I mean, new-tech should be faster, not more delaying. Make it easier than filling with gas (doesn’t have to be faster, no way it will ever be), and I’m on-board.

(I have the same issue with streaming vs my old TiVo, which was way more user-friendly, and had much better interface and continuous FF and REW and frame-by-frame. Streaming? Sorry, no can do.)

Oh, and Why TF do I have to adapt? Some company wants me to use their products? Make it easier.

Let me introduce you to the world wide web. It’s full of tubes.

Seriously, the price of the refueling is not as transparent as with gasoline (price structure may vary more depending on customer and maybe even time of day). There are probably many reasons for the variable pricing, but I’d expect location and availability still are more important to the traveler than price. The long charge time is a big reason charging stations won’t operate like gas stations do now. I don’t see charge times for 500 mi range dropping below 12 minutes for a very long time, if ever.

And some of those tubes are accurate and updated on a timely basis.

I think of driving an EV like flying an airplane, only because I just watched “Masters Of The Air,” and some pilot piped up about the amount of time they were going to spend in the air, versus how much fuel they would have.

I don’t really use such options on my car (since I exclusively home-charge), but I am given to understand that many EVs have range/route planning software that helps people do those computations and identify charging stations, effectively replacing the navigator on the B-17. You are correct that using this depends on the timely updating of status of chargers.

To be fair, my local gas station (< 1 mile) closes at 10PM. I learned that the hard way, but I discovered some 24/7/365 stations about 2 miles away.

Reminds me of when I tried to time a fillup on the way home when the station was closed. Was down to the last mile when I finally filled it up the next morning. (Was at an expensive station as well, but for just 11 gallons the differences in price come out to just a few bucks.)

Oh, I’m cheaper than that. I’ll sometimes get 2 gallons of expensive, so I can get to the cheaper station when it is on my way somewhere. It’s the only way the expensive station will learn.

1 Like

As long as customers are dumb enough to go there then they’ll never learn. This one is conveniently located next to a popular strip mall so they can get away with it. What I won’t do is wait in those crazy long lines at Costco on the weekends just so that I can get the cheaper gas. Time is money.