Jan 20, 2023 - Technology

Hertz to help cities go electric, starting in Denver

A Chevy Bolt EUV beside a Hertz car rental office.

A Chevy Bolt EUV beside a Hertz car rental office. Photo courtesy of Hertz

Hertz aims to speed the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) one city at a time, starting with Denver, where the car rental giant is launching a public-private partnership to add more neighborhood chargers and prepare workers for future jobs.

Why it matters: Renting an electric car gives potential EV buyers a no-risk way to try before they buy. But it can be a daunting choice — especially for first-time EV renters in unfamiliar areas who don't know where to charge.

Driving the news: Under the initiative announced Thursday, Hertz will work with cities to tackle such worries and try to spread the benefits of electrification, like cleaner air and lower long-term costs, to disadvantaged communities.

Details: Hertz will bring up to 5,200 electric cars to its Denver rental fleet, which currently includes around 8,100 vehicles.

  • The cars will be available for rent by Hertz customers as well as by Uber drivers under a previously announced partnership.
  • To support those customers, Hertz and its partner BP Pulse, an EV-charging network owned by oil giant BP, will install "dozens" of public EV chargers at Denver International Airport and elsewhere around the city.
  • Hertz will also provide curriculum and training to the city’s technical high school and will offer summer job opportunities through Denver’s Youth Employment Program.

The big picture: A key part of the initiative is to make sure EVs and chargers are accessible to everyone.

  • EVs are prohibitively expensive for many, and as Axios has reported, chargers are easier to find nationwide in wealthier neighborhoods.
  • The Uber partnership will make the expansion of charging infrastructure more equitable in places like Denver, Hertz CEO Stephen Scherr tells Axios.

How it works: Hertz will share with city planners anonymized data about its cars to ensure new chargers are installed in the places they're needed most, Scherr said.

  • "We know where those EVs are going, and where they dwell overnight. That matters because if a city is going to build out its charging infrastructure, that capital needs to be spent in the right way."
  • Uber drivers often rent their car for weeks at a time, and take it home at night to neighborhoods that might not ordinarily attract investments in public charging, he explained.
  • "A byproduct of our rental of EVs to Uber drivers is a more equitable distribution of charging infrastructure that's in the city's interest."

What they're saying: "Our goal is to reduce Denver’s carbon emissions 80% by 2050, and expanding the use and availability of electric vehicles will play a major role in helping us achieve that goal," Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock said in a statement.

  • "This partnership with Hertz will provide invaluable data about where we need charging infrastructure the most, as well as provide new opportunities with this new technology to create good-paying jobs for our current and future workforce.”

The bottom line: Scherr says the partnership is also good for Hertz, which aims to make 25% of its 500,000-vehicle U.S. fleet electric by 2024.

  • "The greater the proliferation of charging stations, the better it is for our business."
  • Hertz has committed to buy 100,000 electric cars from Tesla, 175,000 from GM, and 65,000 from Polestar.
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