Anyone who’s booked in a rental car in the U.S. in the last year or so might have spotted offers on electric vehicles (EVs). They might also have spotted the lack of charging facilities, especially in the western states outside cities. An EV with a flat battery is useless at the best of times but it’s a lot more useless in the middle of Nebraska than downtown Denver, just as it would be in the middle of Scotland or Dartmoor compared to Islington.
It seems the rental companies are going into reverse. Hertz has just announced it’s going to take a $245 million hit on 20,000 EVs it’s bought. The bottom line is that too few people want to rent them. Ross Clark in the Telegraph has the story.
The company in the U.S. is disposing of the 20,000 EVs it bought with great fanfare in recent years, and is replacing them with petrol models. Some of the Teslas, which are no more than two years old, have been listed for sale at $14,000 – little more than a third of their $40,000 price tag when new. The company says it will take a loss of $245 million but it seems to have little choice given the lack of demand from customers and the vehicles’ higher repair costs.
The implications over here are obvious. If fleets, which so far sales have depended on, are moving away from EVs, then…
It is all coming at a terrible time for the Government and the car industry in Britain. Since January 1st, when the Zero Emission Vehicle mandate came into effect, car manufacturers have been under an obligation to ensure that 22% of the vehicles they sell are pure electric (a proportion which will rise steadily by 80% by 2030). If they fail, they could be liable for huge fines.
Yet as is becoming increasingly clear in so many areas, the Government’s Net Zero ambitions are running well ahead of public appetite. People might tell opinion pollsters that they are all square behind Net Zero policies, but it is a different story when it comes to signing on the dotted line for a new EV or a heat pump (neither of which, by the way, will really get the country anywhere close to Net Zero emissions, even with universal take-up, because their manufacture involves significant carbon emissions, as generation of electricity still does).
Ross Clark though is happy to contemplate the day when EVs are fit for purpose. Until then:
Like everything to do with Net Zero, electric cars are being pushed at us too hard and too fast. One day, they may very well become ubiquitous, but as the Hertz experience shows, they are not yet even nearly ready.
Just like almost everything else being pushed on us for this unholy dash into a world we simply aren’t prepared for and for which the technology is woefully underdeveloped.
Sallust is a pseudonym.