Car rental giant Avis just sent an email out today to its customers to let that it has new rental terms and conditions for its fleet EVs. Some of the company’s EV rules are a bit of a head scratcher.
Here’s what the email said:
As we introduce Electric Vehicles to our fleet, our rental terms have been amended. To accommodate our expanding vehicle inventory, this amends the agreement signed by you with respect to the rental of a vehicle powered by an electric motor (an “EV”). Our updated terms can be found here.
Note that these were sent out by Avis Canada, but the rental terms and conditions are for both the United States and Canada.
I’ve pasted the seven-plus points terms included in the EV section below, and my comments are after each point, in bolded italics:
39. ELECTRIC VEHICLE (EV) TERMS. This EV Amendment amends the rental agreement signed by you with respect to the rental of a vehicle powered by an electric motor (an “EV”) from Avis Rent A Car System, LLC, Aviscar, Inc., or any Avis Rent A Car System, LLC, affiliate, or the independent Avis Rent A Car System, LLC, licensee identified on the rental agreement (collectively referred to herein as “Avis”).
Boilerplate text. All good. Next.
1) AMENDMENT TO RENTAL AGREEMENT: This EV Amendment simultaneously amends the terms of your rental from Avis with respect to the terms herein only. All other terms of your rental remain in full force and effect. In the event of any conflict between the terms of this EV Amendment and your other rental terms, the terms of this EV Amendment shall govern.
More boilerplate. Nothing to see here.
2) ONE WAY RENTALS ARE NOT PERMITTED: Due to unique infrastructure needs associated with EV’s, your EV must be returned to your rental location on the date/time specified in your rental terms. If your EV is not returned to the renting location, all costs incurred in transporting your EV back to the renting location will be assessed to you. In addition, you will be assessed a fee for Avis’ loss of use of the EV between the time that you should have returned the EV to the renting location and the time that it is returned to the renting location up to a maximum of thirty (30) days. The loss of use fee will be your daily rental rate.
“Unique infrastructure needs.” LOL.
At the end of January, a couple of us at Electrek received a PR announcement announcing that Avis was launching a “significant number of EV charging stations at the George Bush International Airport in Houston” with EverCharge. The EV charging stations will “only be used by the Avis and Budget fleets of EVs and PHEVs available for rent” at Houston airport.
I asked, “How many EVs does Avis have for rent across the US, and which makes and models?” And got the reply: “Avis is not commenting on the specifics of its fleet at this time.”
Bummer, because Hertz sure is commenting, and with Tom Brady to boot.
I asked the spokesperson how many EV charging stations Avis is installing at Houston airport, and they wouldn’t tell me – they only said that both DC and Level 2 are being put in.
I asked what the rollout plan is for other North American airports, and got the reply:
Following the launch at the Houston airport, Avis and EverCharge plan to extend the partnership to additional airport locations this year.
So, based on the above information, it would appear that the reason why a car rental customer has to return the EV to the original rental location – in this case, airports – is because Avis doesn’t have enough EV charging infrastructure yet.
I get that this is a growing pains issue, but simply, it isn’t very practical. Not everyone returns to the place where they rented a car.
Maybe Avis should have installed more EV charging infrastructure before it rolled out its unknown quantity of EVs.
One can currently rent a Tesla Model 3 from Avis in seven US states – all in the West. It’s kind of silly that one can’t drive between those locations without having to return to home base.
3) BATTERY CHARGING LEVELS AT VEHICLE CHECK OUT: Avis will rent the EV with at least a 70% charge on the battery. The range of your EV will vary based on a number of factors including vehicle load, driver’s actions such as speed and acceleration, climate and terrain factors such as inclines. Avis does not warrant or guarantee the range of an EV.
Why 70%? The ideal topped-up charge level is 80%. If Avis has EV chargers at its rental locations, then it should charge them to 80%.
And Avis ought to print up a helpful document, or give renters a QR code, so they can read about why and how vehicle load, speed, and acceleration affect charge. Let’s not say there are factors without explaining them.
4) BATTERY CHARGING LEVELS AT VEHICLE RETURN: Your EV must be returned to Avis with a battery charge level of at least 70%. If returned at less than 70% but more than 10% battery charge level, a charging fee of $35 will be assessed to you. If returned with less than a 10% battery charge level, you will be assessed an additional low charge fee of $35 (a total of $70 charging fees if returned with a battery charge of less than 10%). The charging fee is based on the kilowatt hours, overhead, loss of use of the EV and administrative costs Avis incurs in charging the vehicle. Note: fees assessed in the United States refer to U.S. dollars and fees assessed in Canada refer to Canadian dollars.
A $35 car charging fee is a bit steep. Let’s say a driver returns the car with 50% charge – the amount of money to bring it to 70% would be around US $5 at the most.
An 80kwh Tesla battery x 20c/kwh (high estimate) = $16 assuming 0-100% charge.
But I guess this is like when you bring a gas car back empty without prior arrangements, and car rental companies charge you a really high fill-up fee. And if Avis has DC chargers, then they won’t have to wait long to charge up a car that has a battery charge level of less than 70%.
5) ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE: Roadside assistance is available for your EV but fuel cannot be delivered to EV’s. If you require roadside service because you depleted your EV’s batteries, your EV will be towed to your renting location and the towing expense will be assessed to you. If you require another vehicle due to a breakdown, you may be provided a gasoline powered vehicle in which case, all fuel provisions of your rental terms shall apply with respect to your replacement vehicle.
“Fuel cannot be delivered to EVs” – heehee. Love it. It would be cool if Avis invested in some mobile EV charging trucks to make up for the fact that they don’t actually have enough EV charging infrastructure yet to service their EV fleets.
Why can’t the EV be towed to the nearest Tesla Supercharger or Electrify America or similar? Why does it have to go all the way back to the renting location? What if the driver is on a road trip? This one definitely qualifies as weird. This may scare some people off who wanted to try an EV for the first time.
6) SPECIAL EV EQUIPMENT: All EV equipment including, but not limited to, charging equipment, keys, key cards, fobs and/or remote (“EV Equipment”) provided with your EV must be returned. The full replacement cost of any EV Equipment not returned with your EV will be charged to you. LDW, even if elected, does not cover EV Equipment.
Maybe this is a legal thing, but surely it would be common sense that keys, key cards, and fobs would have to be returned, much like any gas rental car? Perhaps Avis has experienced some customers throwing away key cards because they think they’re like hotel key cards? At any rate, I’d be pretty annoyed if I was an Avis employee and customers kept throwing away the key cards, so fair enough. Fobs is a bit of an overstretch. I guess they just had to mention them to cover backs.
7) UNIQUE TESLA TERMS: If you rented a Tesla EV, you will be able to access Tesla Superchargers, subject to availability, to recharge Tesla vehicles provided, however: 1) any fees, charges and/or costs to access and utilize the Tesla Superchargers shall be your responsibility; 2) any Tesla “idle fees”, as defined and charged by Tesla, shall be your responsibility (see Tesla’s website for details https://www.tesla.com/support/supercharger-idle-fee); and 3) the provisions of “Battery Charging Levels at Vehicle Return” shall continue to apply to you.
These are fair terms, because they’re essentially Tesla terms 101.
TESLA VEHICLES MAY NOT BE WASHED AT AN AUTOMATIC CAR WASH. ANY DAMAGE CAUSED BY AN AUTOMATIC CAR WASH SHALL BE ASSESSED TO YOU PURSUANT TO THE “DAMAGE/LOSS TO THE CAR” PROVISIONS OF YOUR RENTAL TERMS AND WILL NOT BE COVERED BY LDW.
Top comment by Peter Scott
They kind of make sense. On the return charge level, they are covering the time lost to charging more than the KWh. Same kind of issue if you drop it off somewhere without charging.
I love the bold capital letters for the CAR WASH RULES. One can take Teslas through car washes, but only in touchless car washes. Teslas have Car Wash Mode.
Maybe Avis decided that putting its Teslas into Car Wash Mode is too complicated for its customers and too much like hard work for its reps to explain how to use the feature to every EV renter? It’s never occurred to me to take a rental car to a car wash, but I’m not fastidious with my cars. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this car wash thing in the comments below.
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