Shot in the arm for electric vehicles as Hertz launches local rentals

Hertz has launched EV rentals in Australia in a move expected to benefit the broader market.

Hertz has launched EV rentals in Australia in a move expected to benefit the broader market. Photo: TND

Australia’s budding electric vehicles market received a shot in the arm this week, with global rental car giant Hertz confirming it has begun renting electric vehicles (EVs) across its local fleet.

In a move that one leading expert says will eventually expand access to second-hand EVs, Hertz announced on Thursday that Australians can now book its new range of Polestar 2 vehicles.

“As a country, we are becoming more environmentally conscious and at Hertz we’re prioritising providing our customers with the opportunity to travel more sustainably,” Hertz APAC vice president Eoin Macneil said.

“We believe providing consumers with the ability to try before they buy for a selected amount of time, we will be able to support the confidence of consumers in their decision to switch to EVs.”

The rollout is part of a larger global strategy, with Hertz set to purchase up to 65,000 EVs over the next five years as it looks to transition large parts of its rental fleet away from petrol cars.

And because many rental cars eventually find their way onto second hand markets, the move is expected to help Australians access more affordable EVs in the future.

It will also provide Australians with an opportunity to try out driving EVs before taking the plunge and buying one themselves.

“What you want them to do is to roll over these EVs as quickly as possible to the second-hand car market,” said Griffith University lecturer Anna Mortimore.

Step towards broader adoption

The lack of a sizeable second-hand market is seen as a key barrier to EV adoption in Australia because new vehicles are much more expensive than many households can afford.

It’s one reason the Albanese government has prioritised exempting EVs from the fringe benefits tax in a bid to encourage more firms to add them to their commercial fleets and, eventually, to sell them second-hand.

These EVs are expected to be much cheaper than the $43,000-or-so Australians must fork out for even the cheapest EVs right now.

That’s higher than the average price for a petrol vehicle, which is only around $37,000.

However, despite these barriers EVs are up to 93 per cent cheaper to run than petrol cars, with the cost of charging being far lower than going to the petrol station regularly.

Dr Mortimore said rollovers from commercial vehicle fleets will be crucial to building an affordable second-hand EV market in Australia.

“It’s huge,” she said.

But the other benefit of companies like Hertz adopting EVs in their rental fleets is that it will provide Australians with an opportunity to experience what its like to drive and charge an EV without having to purchase one.

Dr Mortimore said driving an EV is a very different experience than most motorists are used to, with charging taking the place of trips to the petrol bowser.

“If [motorists are] going to be outlaying all that money for an EV they need to experience it first,” she said.

“You need to get familiar with the kilometres you can travel and how long they take to charge.”

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