How to hire an electric car: rental services explained
If you want to ‘try before you buy’, or just fancy a taste of zero-emissions motoring, renting an electric car could be the answer
More and more people are buying electric cars of their own, using either cash or one of the various types of motor finance available at dealers. The infrastructure is catching up as well, with more charging stations and home charging points being installed all the time. Electricity will soon be as prevalent as petrol and diesel power.
But what if you want to test before you buy, or you just want to use an electric car occasionally? Electric-car rental could allow you to dip your toe into the world of electric motoring and see if it’s right for you. Here’s our comprehensive guide to the different options available when it comes to electric-car hire in the UK.
Why hire an electric car?
One good reason to hire an electric car is as an extended test drive. If you go to a dealership, you’ll be able to test drive one for half an hour or so. If the dealer is really generous, they might let you take it for 24 hours.
However, electric-car ownership is very different to petrol or diesel and you’ll need a good few days to see how one can fit into your life. Hiring an EV can be a great way to experience the ins and outs of ownership first-hand.
Another good reason is if you don’t want to own a car at all, and instead prefer to hire cars as and when you need them. There are several companies offering memberships or subscriptions. You can also get longer-term rentals, from daily to monthly, and many include all costs like insurance, maintenance and even charging.
Where can I hire an electric car?
Electric-car hire is a quickly growing market and the usual car-hire companies aren’t the main place to go, as smaller and newer firms are taking the opportunity to offer new services.
There are different types of electric-car hire companies, from car-club-style services with a monthly fee that allow you to pay for an electric car only when you need it, to more traditional ‘self-drive’ schemes.
What to look for when hiring an electric car
When hiring an electric car, check what’s included in the price – charging is a good example. Some have this as part of the price, with an ‘access card’ that lets you charge up at public charging points. If this isn’t included, then you may need to sign up to some charging services in order to refill the battery. Some ask that you return the car with a full charge, which can be a pain and if you don’t do this then they might charge you a fee.
Traditional hire companies
The major rental companies like Avis, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt all promise the ability to hire electric, but choice can be fairly limited – for example when we looked for an electric car from Enterprise in London, the only choices were a Renault ZOE or Tesla Model S, alongside many conventional petrol, diesel and hybrid models. While this enables you to try an EV, the choice isn’t fully representative of the current offerings on the UK market.
Their websites don’t make it easy to search by powertrain type, either, sticking to the traditional method based on types of car, with no guarantee of reserving a specific make and model. The Sixt website, for example, states that it offers electric cars as part of its fleet, but when trying to browse the offering, only a Volvo plug-in hybrid was available, and there was no way of filtering by fuel type.
Europcar has a dedicated site for renting electric vehicles, however at the time we looked at it, we were greeted with an error message when attempting to search in a major city like London.
In October 2021, Hertz announced a major deal to acquire 100,000 Tesla vehicles, which should be available to rent in the US and Europe by late 2022.
Daily and longer-term rental
These companies offer longer-term electric-car rental, with the ability to book by the day or for longer with, typically, all costs included.
EVHire is an ‘exotic vehicle hire’ company and has plenty of upmarket EVs for hire, such as the Audi e-tron, Jaguar i-Pace, Porsche Taycan and the current Tesla range. Prices for daily rental start at £168 per day. You don’t need to sign up or subscribe to use the service. This could be an option if you want to experience an EV that’s more out of the ordinary.
EV Go specialises in Tesla rental, with prices starting at £99 a day and delivery and collection included. A chauffeur service is also available. There’s no subscription fee to use the service.
EVision is an electric-only car-hire company, with long-term and short-term hire available on loads of electric vehicles, from the cheapest models up to the most expensive EVs. For example, it costs £60 per day or £200 a week to hire a Renault ZOE. Longer-term arrangements are possible, for example £419 a month for a year or more, £398 a month for two or more years, or £378 a month for three or more years.
Green Motion specialises in low-emissions car rental. It offers a range of plug-in hybrid models, but only one fully electric car, the Nissan Leaf. Unlike some of the other electric-car hire companies listed here, it doesn’t require you to sign up to a membership or subscription plan, instead offering four levels of hire: basic, plus, premium and premium+. The different packages change the daily price by reducing the insurance excess and increasing the mileage limit. Booking a Leaf isn’t straightforward, though, as you can’t book a specific make and model.
Volt-Age is an electric-car hire company based in Portsmouth but available nationwide. Cars available to hire include the Hyundai Kona Electric, Nissan Leaf, BMW i3 and the full range of Teslas. Prices on the website assume collection from the company’s head office in Portsmouth, although delivery and collection is available across the UK for a charge. Prices for a Leaf and Kona start at £78 a day for a minimum hire period of three days, and include insurance and VAT.
Drive Electric is a personal contract hire (PCH) company that allows you to lease an electric car for a minimum period of 24 months. There are hundreds of other leasing companies out there, but few specialise in electric cars. The downside is you’re locked into a long-term rental agreement and can’t swap cars.
Ufodrive is a new electric-car rental company that offers collection or even delivery of its cars via an app. It has several premium electric models, including Teslas, Audis and Jaguars, and it’s supported by the RAC.
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