Renting a car? You might get an EV whether you want one or not.


Rental agencies have been buying EVs as fast as they can

Update: Just hours after this story was published, Hertz announced it would sell 20,000 electric vehicles, one-third of its EV fleet, and buy more gas-powered cars.

You may think you have a choice whether to drive an electric vehicle (EV) or not. If you are renting a car, you might not have that option.

Rental car agencies have invested billions of dollars in adding EVs to their fleets. Hertz even has a webpage where customers can specifically request an EV.

In 2022, Hertz announced it would spend $4.2 billion before the end of that year to purchase a fleet of Teslas. Other rental car companies have taken similar steps.

That’s great for customers who want to rent an EV, but there may be as many or more who don’t want to rent one, for any number of reasons. Unfortunately, there are cases when these customers rent a car they are given an EV, whether they want one or not.

An extra $400 for a gas-powered car

Jim, of Fort St. Lucie, Fla., told ConsumerAffairs about an experience he had with Thrifty Car Rental when the agency ran short of gasoline-powered vehicles as he was making his way to see his granddaughter’s gymnastics competition. 

“When I requested the gasoline vehicle I was told that it was going to increase my fee by over $400,” Jim wrote in a ConsumerAffairs review. “I reluctantly accepted the electric vehicle and was told to go to the Hertz building to get my car. Okay, who am I renting this vehicle from Thrifty or Hertz? That question was never answered.”

Actually, Thrifty is a subsidiary of Hertz. But that turned out to be the least of Jim’s concerns.

“I requested a mid-sized SUV and then was told all they had were ‘Kia Soul’ sized electric vehicles and I wasn’t accepting that vehicle. It was too small,” Jim wrote. 

“Then miraculously, a Kia Niro became available, we loaded our bags into the vehicle and got to the exit to find out there was only 30% left on the battery. “This is NOT how vacations are planned to go! …And all because of being (financially) bullied into taking a vehicle I never wanted in the first place.”

It can also happen overseas

This issue isn’t limited to the United States. Michael, from Australia, said he paid for a gas-powered Ford on a trip to London. 

“However, we were provided a Mazda electric vehicle for our trip and was provided verbal assurance that charging EVs across the UK shouldn't be a problem, as there are already heaps of charging stations,” he wrote in a ConsumerAffairs post. “The trip turned out to be problematic and stressful.”

For starters, Michael said the car had only 120 miles of range left. He also said the data on the dashboard constantly fluctuated, so he was uncertain of its accuracy.

“Second, we were not given enough instructions and tips on how to use the car, even if we told them that we haven't driven an electric car before,” he said.

According to Aaron Bragman at, renting an EV requires some knowledge about the technology, noting that they “don’t work the same as traditional gas-powered cars.”

It’s hard to know how often this happens but CNBC has noted that the “massive transition to EVs” is getting its start at rental car agencies. It quoted Sharky Laguana, president of the American Car Rental Association, as saying the industry wanted to buy as many EVs as possible. That suggests rental car fleets could have more EVs than gas-powered cars in the years ahead.

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