Those who rent cars in the U.S. are avoiding electric cars, out of fear they will not be able to recharge them. In a recent Bloomberg report, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, the largest renter of cars in the U.S., says range anxiety is to blame for the dismal performance of electric vehicles.
“People are very keen to try it, but they will switch out of the contract part way through,” Lee Broughton, head of sustainability at Enterprise said in an interview withBloomberg. “Range anxiety makes them think they can’t get to a charging station.” Customers are also renting electric cars on average for 1.6 days, compared to 6 days or a week for conventionally powered vehicles.
President Barack Obama had previously set a goal to have 1 million EVs on the road by 2015, but with only 140,000 currently on U.S. roads, it’s clear that won’t happen. The lack of public charging stations, and the relatively low range—currently fewer than 100 miles for most EVs save for the pricey Tesla Model S—have led consumers opt for hybrids, which operate more like regular cars. When the battery power runs out on a Chevrolet Volt, for example, the car can still run on conventional gasoline.
Automakers understand that to achieve greater EV sales, the battery—and the range batteries can provide—will be the key. Just this week Ford announced that it has invested $2.1 million towards a new University of Michigan battery lab, with the goal of producing a smaller, lighter, and cheaper battery. If automakers can increase range, ease of charging, and decrease the initial cost to get behind the wheel, we’ll likely see greater interest in electric vehicles.