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Car rentals may spur electric vehicle uptake

The standard will force manufacturers to stop dumping high polluting cars in Australia. Photo: AAP

The standard will force manufacturers to stop dumping high polluting cars in Australia. Photo: AAP Photo: AAP

Two in three Australian drivers would like to hire an electric vehicle before buying one, new research shows.

The study by car rental firm Hertz also found more than half the driving population is considering an electric car for their next ride.

But the purchase price, availability of public chargers and a lack of knowledge were holding them back, according to the results of the study which surveyed more than 1000 motorists.

It comes after another report showed Australian businesses were planning to hire more electric cars next year in order to cut carbon emissions.

EVs still a tiny fraction of new car sales

Electric vehicles represented just 3.39 per cent of new car sales in Australia as of September, according to the EV Council, though November sales figures show that rate had risen to 4.7 per cent.

The Hertz survey found 59 per cent of Australian drivers would consider buying an electric car the next time they bought a vehicle, and 67 per cent wanted to rent one as a way to thoroughly test the technology.

Hertz Asia-Pacific vice president Eoin MacNeill said many customers were convinced about electric vehicles after driving one for the first time.

“We’re finding that customers (who) try our EVs, love them,” he said.

“Not just because of the environmental benefits but also because the experience is helping them to dispel some of the predetermined myths they may have had about driving one.”

Cost savings make them attractive

The survey found cost savings from avoiding petrol made electric vehicles attractive for potential buyers, followed by the opportunity to reduce both their carbon footprint and car maintenance costs.

Considerations holding motorists back from buying electric vehicles included high purchase prices (70 per cent), a lack of charging infrastructure (52 per cent), and simply not knowing enough about the technology (28 per cent).

Mr MacNeill said he hoped being able to hire an electric vehicle, as an extended test drive, would change opinions in Australia.

“What has changed is we’re now seeing a new customer segment emerge that simply want to trial a Tesla or Polestar vehicle,” he said.

Rentals are ‘try-before-you-buy experience’

“In many ways, the rental industry is the ultimate try-before-you-buy experience and, as a result, we believe it’s only a matter of time before EVs become commonplace on Australian roads.”

A recent study of 202 small and medium-sized Australian businesses also found interest in renting electric vehicles could rise among business travellers.

The survey by travel agency Corporate Traveller found 58 per cent of businesses planned to change travel policies to reduce carbon emissions in 2023.

Choosing direct flights topped the list of changes (38 per cent), followed by plans to hire electric vehicles (30 per cent) and pick airlines that made efforts to reduce emissions (29 per cent).

Businesses interested in renting  EVs

Corporate Traveller global managing director Tom Walley said the results were encouraging.

“It’s the travel industry’s responsibility to establish more ambitious goals, to continue investing in new technologies and products, and to partner with sustainable services to help travellers reduce their footprint,” he said.

Earlier this year, Hertz signed a deal with Polestar to add up to 65,000 electric vehicles to its fleet over the next five years.

The company also rents Tesla Model 3 vehicles and Toyota hybrids in Australia.

-AAP

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