Electric car hire companies are rushing to add EVs to fleets as they seek to expand their offerings to drivers and reach sustainability goals.
But there is just one car rental fleet in Australia that has the latest entrant from Tesla – the Model Y – available for hire.
It’s not Hertz, which has signed up Tesla, Polestar, and (in the US) more recently General Motors. Nor is it Sixt, which in Australia is run by NRMA and has both MG ZS EVs and Tesla Model 3s on offer to customers.
Rather, it is Evee, an EV hire platform that allows owners to make their cars available for hire to other drivers.
And, the Model Y is proving a big success. Accounting for just one-fifth of cars on the platform, it makes up 40% of hires.
The Driven first interviewed Evee founder and CEO Slava Kozlovskii in 2019, when there were just a handful of battery-electric models available on the market.
At the time, Kozlovskii’s intention was simply to make it easier for those interested in switching to electric to try them out.
With the need to keep an eye on the battery’s state of charge and the car’s energy consumption, charging up at home or (relatively) sparse EV networks instead of fueling up at omnipresent service stations, owning EV has a significant learning curve.
It meant that instead of test driving for a half hour under the watchful eye of a car dealer, drivers could hire an EV for a few days or a holiday and get a better handle on what owning and charging up an EV entailed.
In return, EV owners could get a modest return on their EV investment. To make it affordable, Evee set up an insurance deal with Nsure that meant EV owners could avoid the sky-high premiums demanded for hire vehicles.
Now, more than three years on, Evee has 11 electric car models and 150 cars in total on the platform. These range from a BYD T3 van and an e6 (both early imports from EV Direct), all the way up to a couple of Hyundai Ioniq 5s and a Mercedes-Benz EQC in Perth.
There’s a Mini Cooper SE in Melbourne, a BMW i3s in Sydney, and a couple of Polestar 2s on the platform in Sydney as well as Melbourne.
The most-represented brand however is Tesla. This comes as no surprise as the Californian brand remains the most-represented electric car on the local market as well as in many overseas. The Tesla Model 3 accounts for the largest portion of EVs on the platform, but there are also around ten of each of the premium Model S and Model X.
But perhaps more surprising is the recent surge in Model Ys on the platform, says Kozlovskii speaking to The Driven.
“A lot has changed since 2019. There are over 150 EVs on the platform now. We more than doubled the number of cars as well as the rental days three years in a row. The growth is very optimistic and very encouraging.”
“The platform has over 30 Model Ys available across Australia and Evee remains the only place to rent one in the country.”
Owners from Perth to Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane as well as the ACT, Queensland’s Gold Coast, NSW’s Northern Rivers region and Albury on the NSW-Victorian border have listed on the platform.
Kozlovskii credits Evee’s success with the personalised experience that the platform offers.
“I can only applaud Hertz and Sixt for stepping into the game,” he says. But he points out there are a lot of points of difference in the hiring experience.
“I’ve rented myself from them – Evee is a lot more personalised,” he says. Drivers not only get a personal walk through from hirers, they also get access to the vehicle app.
Additionally, because the platform is populated by owners, Evee customers get to hire the latest EV first.
“I imagine the larger fleets will always be playing catch up,” he says. “With us it’s the access to the first batch of the latest EVs.
Danny Thai, creator of EV comparison site Zecar and innovation manager for Endeavour Energy says he found the Evee hiring experience seamless.
Although he and his partner have a Model 3 and a BYD Atto 3 on order, he hired the Model Y because he hadn’t had a chance to drive one yet.
“I was heading down to Canberra for several EV conferences and I wanted to go there in an EV,” he tells The Driven. “I scoured the internet to find one – I looked at Hertz, Sixt and Evee and found Evee had more available and they were easier to access.”
“From memory the price was roughly the same, the online process was very good … and when it came to the actual pickup, the owner was very helpful. The whole end to end process was very good,” he says.
“I may actually put mine up on the platform (after we get them) – I’m all for utilisation. The mobility aspect of EVs is great but they remain idle most of the time. The potential for energy storage gets me really excited, but another way to increase utilisation is to hire cars and educate people,” he says.
Kozlovskii says that as soon as Tesla started delivering the Model Y to customers in August, it was available for hire via Evee.
“We now have more than 30 Model Ys across Australia – in the last few months they contributed to 40% of hires,” he says.
The all-electric crossover is currently only available in the rear-wheel-drive standard (RWD) and Performance variant. Tesla has not yet delivered any Performance orders, and though the RWD is not officially Tesla’s “long-range” crossover, it does offer around 430km real-world range.
It also offers some key advantages to Tesla’s Model 3, including a hatch at the back, heated steering wheel, higher hip height, much more cargo space and flat-fold back seats.
Asked why it has proven so popular, he attributes the car’s practicality, range and performance.
“It’s the perfect car, as long as you don’t mind the aesthetics,” he says, adding he is waiting for the Long Range Model Y to become available.
Bridie Schmidt owns a Tesla Model Y and has it for hire on the Evee platform
Bridie Schmidt is associate editor for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model Y and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.
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