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The COVID-19 quarantine was not a good time to be a car rental company. With everyone staying home, the rental companies all took a big hit. Hertz was near bankrupt when a group of investors rescued it. Their plan? Reinvent Hertz as “an electric mobility company.”

Hertz made headlines when it promised to buy 100,000 Tesla Model 3 EVs. It made headlines again when it hired Tom Brady as a spokesperson for its electric transition. The deal made headlines a third time because of a hiccup: Hertz promised it would have its Teslas soon, and Elon Musk clapped back. He said that despite the huge order, Hertz wouldn’t get preferential treatment, but would instead have to wait in line like every other buyer. So Hertz retaliated by signing a deal with Polestar.

Quarterback Tom Brady walks in front of Hertz's Tesla Model 3 rental fleet.
Tom Brady and Tesla Model 3 | Eric R. Davidson/Getty Images for HERTZ

Even then, I was wondering why a car rental company needs 100,000 EVs. If you think about it for a minute, most of us rent a car when we want to go on a roadtrip. Maybe we don’t have a car, or maybe we need more seats, all-weather capability, or just want to treat ourselves. Whatever the reason, road trips are one thing EVs are widely considered bad at.

Most drivers consider EVs a legitimate option for anyone who has a short commute and can afford the price tag. But common perception is that on a road trip, you’ll spend long periods recharging in the middle of your drive. Never mind that I found some EVs are surprisingly good at road trips, what Hertz has is a perception problem.

Perhaps if someone flew into a destination, was staying at a hotel with a charger, and wanted a vehicle for day trips, then they’d rent a Model 3 just to try it out. But the “try an EV” crowd dried up quick. Hertz even hosted the biggest “come try an EV” event ever. But it obviously wasn’t enough.

In January 2024, Hertz announced that it is going back to a gas powered fleet. It is dumping its Tesla Model 3 rental cars on the used market. It looks like it has only received 20,000 of them so far, and they’re all for sale.

Why? Hertz has cited lack of demand. It also says they are expensive to maintain and to repair after a crash. I suppose this makes some sense. We know EVs cost less per mile to drive. But rental cars get beat up, and perhaps there’s a smaller aftermarket industry capable of putting a Tesla back together after a fender bender. But doesn’t that cost get passed along to insurance anyway?

Regardless of why this happened, this means that used Model 3 prices are about to get even lower than they were. And used Model 3 prices have been tumbling. So if you have been dreaming of a cheap Tesla, this may be your opportunity. Just make sure to check for crash damage first.

Next, see what makes a used Tesla such a great investment, or learn the ins and outs of buying a used rental car in the video below:

Related Polestar Signs 65,000 Electric Vehicle Deal With Hertz Rental Cars

Polestar Signs 65,000 Electric Vehicle Deal With Hertz Rental Cars