As electric vehicles (EVs) become more common on the road, rental car companies are increasingly adding them to their fleets. If you’ve never driven an EV before, renting one will require more planning than for a standard gas-fueled car. Here are some confidence-building tips.
FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THE VEHICLE.
Check out an online tutorial beforehand, flip through the manual, or have your rental car agent show you the car’s ropes. In particular, Teslas—still the most popular EV out there—operate differently from other models.
DON’T LOSE SIGHT OF YOUR RANGE.
Ask about your EV’s range before your road trip. In general, today’s EVs can drive up to 300 miles on a full charge. Some models even come with features that can increase vehicle range.
Bone up, too, on how driving conditions impact an EV’s range—driving slower and in moderate temperatures, for example, provides better range. Driving in mountainous areas can eat up a charge quickly.
TAKE CHARGE OF CHARGING.
Although charging stations are located in public places such as parking garages and shopping malls, they are not nearly as common as gas stations. Before hitting the road, take a moment to pinpoint charging spots along your route by downloading an app like ChargeHub or PlugShare. Double-check that your rental car has its own charging cable—and make sure it’s at least a Level 2 charger—since not all public charging stations offer tethered cables. And, remember to return the car charged to the level required by the rental agency.
BE SURE TO INSURE.
Talk to your AAA travel advisor about insurance needs for your EV rental.Know the limitations of your personal auto insurance policy, credit card insurance or the rental agency’s policy. For example, some credit cards exclude coverage for “electrical breakdown or failure,” while some car rental insurance policies offer only limited coverage for damage to the battery or any damages that occur during charging.
THE ECO EXPERIENCE
Recognizing that there will be a learning curve will make your ride go more smoothly. The main difference is that EVs accelerate more immediately and effortlessly than cars fueled by gas and, in the case of EVs equipped with one-pedal driving, start to stop the moment you remove your foot from the pedal. (There is still a brake pedal for emergency stopping.) The most pleasant surprise for many, though, is that EVs offer a much quieter ride.