Leading the way in the car rental sector

Europcar added 10 leased 100% electric vehicles to their rental fleet, promoting environmentally friendly motoring options to New Zealanders and leading the way for EV uptake in the rental sector. The project received co-funding from the Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund.

About the journey

Europcar has fleet of over 2,000 petrol and diesel-fueled vehicles available for hire across New Zealand. The company is committed to playing a part in keeping New Zealand clean, green, and beautiful, and an electric rental fleet seemed like the perfect way to show this.

Customers would have the opportunity to experience the benefits of EVs first-hand and demand would be created in the rental vehicle sector, which is the largest corporate purchaser of light passenger vehicles in the country - now that’s a win-win for low emission EV uptake.

The team at Europcar felt that the fully electric 36kWh Volkswagen e-Golf would be a great choice for the electric rental fleet. Its five seat capacity and large boot is appealing to customers, its operation doesn’t present any new challenges for the driver, the 220km is suitable for most trips, the model is price competitive and supply was readily available.

Europcar leased 10 e-Golfs from Volkswagen for their fleets at Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin Airports. Charging infrastructure was installed at each location and tracking devices were set up in each car to help Europcar understand EV use and popular routes.

Europcar NZ Sales Manager, Melissa Carter, says the team were focused on “eliminating reasons why not to choose an EV and providing as many reasons why customers should.” Travel itineraries were created to give peace of mind to those who might have worries about the EV’s driving range and power capabilities. Maps of charging locations were also provided to the customer at the time of pickup, as well as in-depth guidance on how to operate and charge the car.

Results

Melissa says uptake of the e-Golfs has been positive, especially for shorter hires. “Customers love how easy the EVs were to use, the fact they didn’t have to worry about petrol and how long the battery lasted.”

The project gained recognition in the media, which increased the number of people viewing the electric fleet on the website and helped grow interest in EVs. With the lease terms coming to an end, success in this project inspired Europcar to go ahead with another EECA co-funded project: a fleet of 12 EVs for a low emission airport-based round trip rental/car-share service, “Electric Day Pass.”

Scope of the project

Cost breakdown

Category Item Cost per unit Quantity Total
Vehicles Volkswagon e-Golf (24 month lease) $30,000 10 $300,000
  Vehicle tracking systems $300 10 $3,000
  Signwriting $700 10 $7,000
        $310,000
Charging Infrastructure Charging units, cables and installation     $30,000
Other Marketing and project management     $40,000
Grand Total       $380,000
EECA Co-funding       $80,000

Timeframe

Europcar’s electric rental fleet project started in September 2017, with the e-Golfs hitting the road later that year in October.

Suppliers

The e-Golfs were leased from Volkswagen Auckland, charging infrastructure was supplied by Schneider Electric, and local service providers installed the chargers.

Advice

  • Focus on the life-cost of the EV. Although the initial cost can be high, EVs often work out to be a great investment in the long-run – and they’re great for your carbon footprint.
  • Factor EV supply into your plan. New Zealand can face limited selection and supply of EVs, which is something you will need to take into account.
  • Start small. Trial EVs to make sure they are suitable, then look to expand.
  • Provide training for EV drivers. For a smooth switch to EVs, teach drivers how to drive, charge, and work within the range. This can help answer questions about the new technology and relieve any worries people may have.
  • Brand your vehicles. This can give you high profile and increase curiosity about EVs.
  • Try to gather interest in what you are doing with EVs. EVs can create business interest and media attention, opening up doors that weren’t available before.

Lessons for others

Europcar’s EV rental locations were restricted to larger regions with better charging infrastructure. Queenstown was originally planned to receive some of Europcar’s EVs but this was changed to Dunedin due to concerns about a lack of chargers available around the region for customers. However, three years later this is much less of a challenge with a significant increase in the number charging stations all around the country.

Find out more

Europcar Electric Vehicles(external link)

Herald News Article(external link)

Who else could do this?

  • Car-share companies
  • Rental car companies