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What happens when my EV rental runs out of charge? It’s not as different as you would expect


Hertz vice president Eoin McNeill says that when an electric rental car runs out of juice, the repatriation process won’t be that different to a petrol car

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you rented an electric car and it ran out of charge?

Hertz Australia vice president Eoin McNeill told Chasing Cars that with the company’s new deal to offer Tesla and Polestar rentals, it would be an experience not unlike that of a combustion engine vehicle running out of fuel. 

“We probably would have to tow the vehicle (if the electric car went flat). We’ll repatriate the customer. 

Tesla Model 3 Hertz logo
Hertz will deliver hundreds of new electric vehicles to its fleet soon

“If we had a petrol engine car and it broke down, we’d have exactly the same experience”, McNeill said. 

Hertz hopes that their customers will be focused on their ‘distance to empty’ dashboard readings. Why just drive it until it stops?

EV range will help stop tow truck woes 

In the Hertz situation, the customer will be liable to pay for the towing service if they can’t make it to a charging station. 

If you run out of charge in your Hertz Polestar 2, you’ll have to pay for the tow home

This shouldn’t be an issue for a lot of customers as the Polestar 2 long-range model has a maximum electric range of 540km (WLTP). Even the short-range version of the Polestar 2 has a range of up to 478km (WLTP). 

Hertz says that the average driving distance of a rental car is only around 100km, which means this running flat shouldn’t be of major concern to many Hertz customers. 

Fuelling an EV is not as easy as fuelling a petrol or diesel car 

Polestar 2 2023 white wall background
Charging an EV is not straight-forward on the side of the road

If you are on the side of the road and your EV rent-a-car has gone completely flat, your friend or a random stranger will not be able to simply bring a big battery or a very long lead to charge the EV back up again. Short-range portable electric chargers do exist, though they are not commonplace as yet.

With a petrol or diesel car, obviously a person could bring a few litres of fuel to get you back to a service station. No problem.

But having electric cars go flat is a bigger issue than most would think. Most likely they would have to be towed back to base and recharged there rather than conveniently at the car’s current location.