Hertz thought they were being forward thinking when they ordered 100,000 Tesla Model 3s last year, amounting to about one-quarter of their total fleet. Now a year later, its plans are in disarray and on hold.
At the time it seemed to be an clever attempt to move on from their recent bankruptcy and take advantage of the interest in EVs to boost their stock. But Hertz experienced an array of problems, many that could have been predicted.
Owning an EV as your personal car is a lot different than using it as a rental, especially a Tesla that has a completely different user interface and an an unfamiliar method of refueling.
EV renters need to charge their car at their hotel or elsewhere during their rental period and that can require planning for the extra time it takes. Renters on a long road trip may be driving through areas where chargers are hard to find. And once they find them, they often require accounts to be set up to pay digitally. And who has time to stop on the way back to return their car and grab a flight to stop for 30-60 minutes to refuel?
But Hertz experienced even more problems. The resale values of Teslas have plummeted because Tesla keeps lowering the MSRP of their cars. In addition, the cost of repairing Teslas turned out to be double what the company spends on conventional cars.
At the time, Hertz also signed an agreement with Uber to rent half of their Teslas to Uber drivers, which only added to their grief. The level of damages on these vehicles turned out to be much higher because of the Uber drivers’ higher usage factor.
Perhaps Hertz thought their customers would prefer EVs, but that also turned out to be an issue with some of their renters. Many complained that their cars were not fully charged when they drove away and were not provided any instructions on finding a charger.
One renter that was totally unfamiliar with a Tesla and had a horrific experience as reported in Carscops:
Sometimes problems go from bad to worse and that was the case for a mom and daughter hoping to tour different colleges earlier this year. They rented a car, which ended up being a Tesla Model 3, from Hertz but ultimately didn’t have the knowledge they needed to use it. That led to a completely flat battery and the feeling of being trapped in the car.
[The renter] Becky Liebeau says that she rented a car from Hertz and thought that it would be an everyday gas-powered vehicle. Instead, Hertz gave her the Tesla saying that it was all that they had available. “I have never driven an electric vehicle and it would not have been my first choice,” said Liebau to CBS 2 Chicago.
The issue wasn’t just that Liebau was unfamiliar with EVs, but that the car was only half-charged, she says. Liebau says she wasn’t given any instruction about where to charge, how to charge, or how to find charging stations. As a result, she and her daughter ended up stranded on the side of the road with a completely dead Tesla Model 3.
Not being familiar with the Tesla, neither knew that there were physical door releases on the doors. Both believed that they were trapped despite having the handle to open the doors mere inches away. “I ended up having to crawl out the trunk, when he told me about the release button in the back,” said Liebau.
Hertz has apparently short-circuited their once grand plan. They now have 35,000 Tesla vehicles and around 50,000 electric vehicles in its fleet — far shy of the 100,000 Teslas that Hertz originally said it was ordering and expected by the end of 2022.