Interview with Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Published on EV Update (

Greg Tabak, Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Posted by obalch [1] on Oct 10, 2012

EV Update talks to Greg Tabak about the roll-out of EVs in Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s Southern Californian rental fleet.

Greg Tabak is director of business sales for Enterprise [2]’s Southern California Electric vehicle/Hybrid operations.

EV Update: What kind of EV offering does Enterprise Rent-a-Car currently have for its rental customers?

Greg Tabak: At the present time, we have twelve electric vehicle rental locations in Southern California, which all have different types of charging infrastructure. Since the beginning of the year, we’ve added hybrid electrics, such as the plug-in Prius, into our fleet as well. Additionally, we’ve added more Chevy Volts to our fleet. So now we have a bigger portfolio of vehicles to rent at these locations.

EV Update: What’s the utilisation rate of the EVs in your rental fleet?

Greg Tabak: It’s more than 60 percent. It’s not where we would hope or expect it to be. There are a lot of people that are uneasy about the technology and there’s still a major lack of [consumer] education. Even though there is significant infrastructure development in many markets, it’s not vast enough for people to know where it is or how to find it. How to access it [EV charging infrastructure] is a problem too. Although the current range of 100 miles is suufient for most people, people perceptions is that it is not.

This all adds to a more complicated situation. There needs to be more education available so people feel comfortable with Electric vehicles and Alternative Fuels in general. It has to be a combined effort. That said, I believe the ability to get people driving an EV and getting them comfortable with the technology is important. That’s why having EVs as an option for our rental customers is a good thing.

EV Update: Most charging stations in California are Level II. How do your customers feel about Level II as a charging option?

Greg Tabak: Our average local car replacement customer doesn’t have a very strong appetite for Level II charging. Very often, we give them the car fully charged. If they are going to go within a limited geographic area, it’s unlikely that they are going to need charging during the day. So it’s not a major problem for our home city customers. We provide them with a Level I adaptor with the car and we show them how to charge at home. I see that this [Level II] could become a bigger problem if we expand to our airport customers. If customers fly in and go about their business, that’s when they are going to need Level III charging. Or for people taking longer trips. It’s fair to say that our customers would pay to fill up at a Level III station because they are out of there in 15 or 20 minutes. But it’s unlikely that they are going to pay $1.5 per hour to sit in a Level II station for three or four hours.

EV Update: Are you taking any steps to offer Level III charging then?

Greg Tabak: We ran a recent pilot in the Texas market with eVgo, offering Level III charging in the Texas and Houston areas. Customers were offered free access to eVgo’s Freedom Stations. The pilot enabled us to see how important Level III might be for our customers. What we found was that the access to rapid charging gave our customers a bit more peace of mind. It also gave them the ability to utilise the vehicles for what they are designed for without much hesitation.

Traditionally, if someone were to rent an electric vehicle, they would be worried about having access to charging infrastructure and having the time they need to charge the vehicle appropriately to get it back. With Level III charging, they obviously don’t have those issues. So by strategically placing Level III charging along travel corridors, people can charge quickly and then getting going to where they need to be. In general, we found customers were using the infrastructure much more than Level II charging stations.

EV Update: As well as the time required for charging, does the payment process for charging present an issue for rental customers?

Greg Tabak: Yes. We are currently offering both the Blink and Coulomb charge cards to our customers. We’ve had moderate success with usage on these. Free access to chargers is dissipating right now. Because of where Level II charge stations are located, people often need to pay for access – either for the cost of parking, or because the [charger] host is charging a fee. Access is difficult because there are so many different charging networks currently in operation. We can’t give our customers a key with twelve key-cards attached to it.

We need a centralised mechanism where they can use one card or their credit card for charging. The alternative is a business-style account where we could capture the usage and then bill the customer on their account accordingly, just as we’d do with a transponder for toll-roads and the like. We’re talking about this, but there’s really no solution out there at the moment. Every charging station manufacturer wants to have their own proprietary system and their own card and network. They don’t really want to connect the dots. That’s the problem we’re currently running into.