Automakers Should Offer Free ICE Rentals With Every EV Purchase

The electrification revolution is well underway: over 5% of vehicles sold in 2022 were EVs. But many drivers suffer range anxiety, often because of a few planned long road trips every year. I believe EV automakers should include a couple of ICE rentals every year, with the purchase of every new EV. This incentive alone could revolutionize auto sales.

Drivers can’t just “get over” range anxiety

White Nissan Leaf EV parked at a dealership, charging.
Nissan Leaf SV | Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Range anxiety is real. Because EVs take a long time to charge, buying a vehicle with a short range can really cramp your style. Many automakers have addressed this problem with long-range variations of popular EVs. The 2023 Hyundai IONIQ 5 will max out at 303 miles and the Tesla Model S “Long Range” may be able to go up to 405 miles.

But there are two major problems to this approach: Lithium costs money, these EVs with oversized battery packs cost extra. And even if you have 300 miles of range, a 900-mile road trip will require at least two full charge-ups, and those eat into your driving time.

EV fans point out that 90% of the average automobile trip is under 20 miles and some even say we need to “get over” range anxiety. But those few long-distance road trips we take each year are to see loved ones or to head out on a long-awaited vacation. Cutting them out of our year is not really an option.

A couple of ICE rentals a year could meet many drivers’ needs

White Kia rental car driving out of a Hertz branch.
Hertz | Cindy Ord/Getty Images

If your commute isn’t too long, EV range might not be a problem day to day. But if you take long road trips during vacations or holidays, an EV might not cut it. An ICE is still a great option for a road trip, and some EV owners even rent them for long trips.

If an automaker offered to lend EV buyers an ICE when they need it, they might have a lot more customers. This would be especially easy for automakers that offer both ICEs and EVs. Take Ford for example. If Ford wanted, it could offer Mustang Mach-E buyers a Taurus at a discounted or free rental price.

If no automakers are interested in such a perk, dealerships located in rural areas might take the initiative. A dealership with a selection of used cars, ready to lease, could easily offer a loaner to EV customers.

Some electric-only vehicle companies even have deals with rental companies. For example, both Polestar and Tesla have sold many vehicles to Hertz. In their next contract, either manufacturer could request a low Hertz rental rate for EV owners.

EV sales are on the rise

A potential customer buying a vehicle at a dealership.
Car dealership | J. Conrad Williams Jr./Newsday RM via Getty Images

According to the Toledo Blade, 5.6% of all vehicles sold in 2022 were EVs. And that might not sound like much. But consider that back in 2019, only 1.4% of all vehicles sold were EVs. EV sales are definitely on the rise, but they still don’t solve 100% of many folks’ vehicle needs.

If automakers offered a couple of ICE rentals per year to every new EV buyer, they might speed up the adoption rate. Such a move would also show real understanding of the needs of the average driver.

Next, read about a possible alternative to the combustion ban or see the latest news on EV tax credits in the video below: