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Close up of hand plugging in an electric car
teksomolika | Adobe Stock

How to Rent an Electric Car

SmarterTravel

As gas prices in the United States climb above $5 a gallon, you may want to reconsider the type of rental car you get for your next trip. Choosing an electric vehicle (EV) could save you big money since you won’t have to fill up the gas tank. However, finding one to rent (and a spot to charge it) can be a big challenge. 

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Where to Rent an Electric Vehicle

Small white electric car plugged into a charging station
Oleksandr | Adobe Stock

Although consumer demand for EVs is at an all-time high, they can still be hard to find as a rental option. For example, I went on Kayak, a popular rental car search site, and searched for EVs available on a Tuesday in late June. The search returned zero available options for EVs in a number of major cities. 

You may have more luck looking directly on rental car companies’ websites. Hertz, Enterprise, National, and Alamo offer EVs as part of their fleet. Hertz has a page where you can search for a Tesla rental, which the company offers at 15 airport rental locations across the country.

The easiest place to find a rental car is on Turo, a carsharing company that allows owners to rent out their own cars. This is the best way to make sure that you’ll actually get the car you reserve. On Turo, you can easily search for electric or hybrid cars and see what is available.

How Much Does an Electric Vehicle Cost?

EVs are typically significantly more expensive to rent than a standard economy rental car. Depending on the model that you rent, you’re likely to wind up paying more for the EV than you will save in gas. 

However, if you’re able to find a hybrid car to rent (such as a Prius), you’re likely to experience great gas mileage without having to overpay for the car itself. 

You may find bargains on EVs on Turo. On Turo, I searched for EVs available to rent in Boston, Massachusetts, and found an all-electric BMW i3 for $134 per day. However, a non-EV was still the cheaper rental option. A search on Kayak for the same city and dates found a compact car available for $73 per day. If you’re planning on putting a lot of miles on your rental, the EV might still be the better deal—In this case, you would quickly make up the price difference between the compact car and the EV after filling up the gas-powered vehicle once or twice.

How to Charge Your Car

Man charging his electric car next to bag of groceries on the ground
Serhii | Adobe Stock

There are three different ways to charge an EV, and the type of charger you’re able to use depends on the car type.

Level 1: Can be charged through a regular 120-volt outlet. This type of charger takes the longest and could take 40-50 hours for a full charge.

Level 2: Requires use of an EV charging station. A full charge from empty takes anywhere from 4 to 10 hours depending on the model of the car.

Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC): Requires a Tesla connector, an SAE Combo connector or a Chademo connector. This is the technology that is found at Tesla Supercharging stations, and it takes between 20 minutes to one hour to charge an EV to 80 percent. 

Where to Charge an Electric Vehicle

Renting an EV will require a bit more planning than a standard car. You’ll need to plan out stops where you can charge your EV.

If you’re able to use a Tesla charger, you can search Tesla’s website to find available charging stations. The U.S. Department of Energy also has a website where you can search for EV charging stations in the United States and Canada.

You may find free charging opportunities at your hotel, but if you’re recharging on the road, you can expect to pay for the privilege. According to Investopedia, “Delivering a charge of up to 28 miles per hour, the cost for level 2 ranges from $1 to $5 an hour. Normally these types of charging stations are found at shopping centers.” If you are charging at a DCFC station, you can expect to pay between $10 to $30 to charge your battery to almost full in around an hour. 

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