Europcar website for the Nissan LEAF

Europcar Quietly Removes Electric Car Rentals From UK Fleet

While electric car rental is gaining popularity in the U.S. with more and more rental companies offering everything from the Nissan LEAF to Tesla Model S as part of their eco-friendly fleet selection, electric car rentals in the UK seems to have run out of charge.

Enter Twitter user and Transport Evolved fan @aatheus, who contacted us with what seemed like a fairly simple question: did rental company Europcar still offer electric vehicle rentals in the UK?

The answer, after a lot of digging around, is no.

Just a year ago, Europcar was singing the praises of electric cars with a couple of its outlets in the London area offering customers the chance to experience life behind the wheel of a Nissan LEAF or the Peugeot iOn.

The company even offered iOn rentals out of its Glasgow depot as this news release from May 2012 shows.

Yet some time in the past year, Europcar has quietly removed its EVs from service, and isn’t keen on discussing why.

We pick up our story on Wednesday morning, when @aatheus was trying to figure out how and where to arrange an all-electric hire through Europcar.

(For reference, I’m replying as @aminorjourney)

Despite its enthusiasm for EVs last year, Europcar has killed all of the EVs on its fleet.

Despite its enthusiasm for EVs last year, Europcar has killed all of the EVs on its fleet.

We have to admit, it’s all a bit confusing. Even today, there’s still a dedicated Nissan-Leaf microsite live on Europcar’s website, but according to an official statement received today by Transport Evolved we can confirm, categorically, that Europcar has ceased UK EV rentals.

It reads as follows:

“Europcar is committed to offering the widest range of vehicles possible to customers, including electric vehicles. However, it needs to balance the desire to offer new technologies with customer demand and, sadly, to date the interest in the hire of electric vehicles has been limited. For the moment, therefore, electric vehicles are not available on Europcar’s fleet for UK customers to hire. Should there be an increase in demand from customers Europcar would of course look at re-introducing them to its fleet.”

For EV fans looking to hire an electric car while visiting the UK, this is frustrating news, since the only option for EV rentals now seems to be by-the-hour services like Hertz Connect, or the fun, Twizy-rentals offered by various travel companies in Wales and the New Forest.

The former isn’t exactly practical or cost effective for a week-long hire, while the latter may not be to everyone’s tastes and most likely well out of region.

For now then, it looks like finding an EV to rent in the UK got a whole lot more difficult, making us wonder if the UK will ever really become an EV-friendly island?

Would you rent an electric car if you could in the UK? Do you think rental companies should offer them alongside gasoline cars? What would you pay for the privilege? And finally, how can demand build if no-one offers the rental? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments below.

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  • Dennis Pascual

    I’ve rented EVs in markets that I’ve travelled to in preference over ICE vehicles. Typically there is a slight premium over similarly sized vehicles. I will continue to seek EVs wherever and whenever I need to rent a vehicle, so, yes. I would rent an EV if I can.

    • Mark Chatterley

      I know I have phoned around a few companies a couple of times in the UK looking for EV rentals for various reasons. The answer has always been we don’t do them. What I don’t get is how can they get a measure for demand? I’m almost certain my call wasn’t logged with a little flag saying ‘wanted an EV’. How is ‘demand’ being measured?

      • avoice

        I encountered much the
        same recently with my regular rental firm. I tried every angle of enquiry I
        could think of starting with the reservations manager, customer service
        department (which is only concerned with sorting out problems with current
        services) and finally someone fairly senior at HQ (via the press office) who
        basically said that there is no demand for EVs. When I asked how they came to
        that conclusion since at that point it had taken over 10 phone calls to get zero useful information, they had no
        explanation. Quite a bizarre attitude in such a competitive sector imho. I did
        also have a tertiary stab at the social media angle but, between the corny
        marketing, the twitter posts looked like a midlife crisis helpline, with giddy
        tales of trips in something reassuringly large and throbbing through otherwise
        unspoilt countryside J.

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  • electricmotoringcouk

    Lets pick this subject up from dead – There are currently 34 Nissan Leaf available to hire from Europcar UK, mostly at London Excell and other London stations. In total there should be around 100 in next few months. There is more on continent,also some Vauxhall Ampera’s (in Amsterdam and few other cities)

    • avoice

      It seems you’re right – thanks for the tip. I need to rent a car later this month and it looks like I can pick up a Leaf at Gatwick. Looks like they’re the only major outfit that offers EVs, though Googling something like ‘ev rental uk’ or ‘electric car rental uk’ doesn’t bring up Europcar in the results. Ironically, Hertz comes up but digging a little you soon reveals that they actually offer EVs at all.