Electric Vehicle

How To Rent An Electric Vehicle In Europe

Electric Vehicle

Inflation and gas prices are climbing, so I thought I’d rent an Electric Vehicle. I’m going to France this summer after a two-year sabbatical from international travel. According to the National Traffic and Tourism Office, aviation travel to Europe rose 862% between March 2021 and 2022. I was shocked to find so many electric rental cars in Paris. Europe: an electronic utopia? Is EV rental as feasible as these data suggest?
Skeptical but intrigued in savings, I researched EV driving in Europe. Here’s how to decide if renting one for your next trip makes sense.

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Europeans use EVs more than Americans.

EVs make up 5% of new car purchases in the US, excluding hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and fuel-cell vehicles. Europe has double or greater Electric Vehicle adoption than the US. 12% of new car sales in France are EVs. Same in UK (Opens in a new window). EVs have 21% and 83% market share in the Netherlands and Norway, respectively.

Carsten Anhalt, head of automobile rental at Share Now in Berlin and former senior vice president at Sixt, says EVs make up around 20% of rental fleets.
Some European rental firms promote EVs, therefore rates are reduced. “We have worked hard to keep EV rental a tempting proposition for people used to gasoline-powered vehicles, and competitive rates are key in that,” said Hertz International’s Conor Twomey.

Can European EV rentals save money?

EV drivers can escape high gas prices. European gas rates sometimes surprise US vacationers who believed a two-hour trip wouldn’t be expensive. The Ukraine war raises European gas costs more than in the US (Opens in a new window). This year, price-conscious visitors may find EVs appealing.
According to EVbox, charging an EV is cheaper than filling a gas tank in Europe. Using Tesla Superchargers made driving a Tesla around the US $5 cheaper every 100 miles.

EVbox forecasts filling a Nissan Leaf in Europe will cost $15 for 226 miles and $23 for 388 miles. Current European gas prices make driving a Honda Civic 300 kilometres $60.

Electricity cost and charging speed determine the actual cost.

Europe’s average price per kilowatt-hour is $0.23, but Germany’s is $0.32. Fully charging an EV in France costs a third as much as gas. Estimates assume 85% home charging, which is cheaper than public.

Faster chargers cost more. On-the-go travellers should use DC rapid chargers. Still cheaper than gas, but you’ll need to charge every three hours. That’s important for a once-in-a-lifetime international trip.

If you’re willing to charge, station availability is next.

How do Europeans charge EVs?

In the US and Europe, you must create an app-based account to utilise EV charging stations. Credit cards aren’t accepted like at gas stations. Some charging station providers operate in numerous European nations, but you’ll find new ones as you travel borders.

Most public charging apps are only in European app stores. Creating a separate Apple or Google ID for each country or region makes downloading them tough. Rental automobile firms recognise this difficulty and offer solutions.
Before renting an electric car, check out if public charging is included. Sixt collaborates with Plugsurfing to provide near-universal charging fobs for Dutch and German rentals.
Plugsurfing is a European software that lets drivers charge at multiple brands with one account. It works at 300,000 European charging stations. Not just foreigners. Plugsurfing’s communications manager says over a million drivers utilise it.
Many car rental firms give drivers a charge key “”Philp,” “No rental car company has a pan-European EV charging partner, I’m afraid. It’s a hodgepodge of fixes.

Hertz gives renters a Shell Recharge key fob, which allows access to 300,000 charging sites across Europe. Many Americans have rented EVs from Twomey. QR codes on the dashboard, keychain, and charging flap link to EV-specific FAQs for customers who are confused how to operate an EV.

US-based companies like ChargePoint and Tesla have EV charging stations across Europe. First-time drivers should create accounts. According to Electrek.co, ChargePoint expanded its European network by partnering with EVGo and EVbox. Tesla also permits non-Teslas to charge at their stations in most European nations. This initiative will expand to the US later this year.

Before booking, ask the rental business how charging works in the nation you rent from and any countries you expect to drive in.

More Road Trip Tips

Fiat 500 Electric, Peugeot E-208, Tesla Model 3, Volkswagen iD, or Renault ZOE are common European EV rentals. Ask about the model’s charging plug if you’re not sure. CHAdeMO and CCS are two types that determine which stations a car can connect to.
See our charging plug guide for further information, while many European automobiles use additional connections. The same basic ideas apply. Some accept only level 1 and 2, others allow all levels (including level 3, fast charging), and Teslas require their own special connectors.
Confirm with the rental provider if the automobile has a plug adapter to increase charging stations. Hertz offered an adapter so PCMag’s Angela Moscaritolo could charge at non-Tesla stations during her week-long Tesla rental.

Europe charging stations?

European cities and highways have level 2 and 3 charging stations, just like the US. Level 2 charges at store parking lots and public garages may be too slow for travellers. You want level 3/direct current chargers that can charge in 30 to 45 minutes. Depending on the conditions, level 2 charges take 2 to 3 hours (batteries take longer to charge in the cold).

Fast chargers aren’t always available, therefore travellers will likely use level 1 and 2 stations. Before renting, check your route’s stations and expected charging time.
When searching for fast chargers in Europe on PlugShare, several popped up, albeit other nations had larger networks. “Day trips in Western and Northern Europe are fine, but avoid anywhere else,” warned a Londoner.
Google Maps shows London EV charging points. Like PlugShare’s map, the details include charging speed, plug type, and available chargers. Pay attention to these details; you don’t want to arrive at a station with no available chargers or slower chargers that can’t plug into your car.
Most EVs have a screen with a charger map. To troubleshoot and find chargers when travelling, you need an international phone and broadband package. The vehicle’s map and phone may lose service or provide outdated information. Also, the station’s instructions may need to be translated. Watch our video on foreign phone plans.
Before returning the automobile, make sure it’s fully charged. If so, empty returns may be taxed.

Charging time and station availability will make or break your experience while renting an electric vehicle in Europe. If you’re visiting a country with plenty of charging stations, a day trip in an EV could be fun. Imagine driving a Tesla to one of Europe’s historic castles.

Alexandre Forlini, a teacher in a Barcelona suburb, thinks American tourists could want a unique experience for a short vacation. He’s seen more EVs and new chargers.

Is European EV rental worth it?

Germany’s Carsten Anhalt agrees. “Renting an EV is fun for a day, but I wouldn’t go on a road trip right now,” he remarked. Charging stations, or “loading polls,” are “not very available” Europeans charge at home.

Longer excursions, especially border crossings, are difficult. Philp @ Plugsurfing doesn’t advocate EVs for American visitors due to restricted access to charging apps, variances in charging firms, and lack of uniform charging help from rental companies. Hertz reps say “go for it.”

I’m staying with gas for now. On my first international travel in years, I won’t charge or look for chargers. Instead, I’ll enjoy the low petrol prices compared to past journeys due to the good exchange rate.

Plus, European cities are full of accessible low-emissions transit options. London and Paris have electric metros. 60% of new European buses in 2021 will be electric, hybrid, or fuel cell, according to electrive.com. Electric underwater trains can cross the English Channel (Opens in a new window).

If you rent an EV, ask the rental company about charging alternatives. Check if you may use a US phone and credit card with charging applications in each nation you want to visit. Finally, plan your route to ensure you have adequate power. Don’t forget the worldwide plan.

Post-trip update coming soon. Check out our Tesla roadtrip review for more travel advice.


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