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'We're not Australia or the US where people do long 8 hour driving days'
Electric rental cars hit the road as the hire business heats up
Patrick Broadbent and Jamie Bennett, directors of Snap Rentals, have tried out their first electric rental car / Chris McKeen
About 30 per cent of Share-a-Camper's rental customers are Kiwis taking advantage of its lower rates / Joseph Johnson
The tourism boom has attracted the world's largest rental car company to New Zealand and electric rental vehicles are on their way.
Vehicle hires hit an estimated 270,00 over the two month summer peak and competition for both tourism and domestic business is growing.
Enterprise Holdings, which operates a global fleet of about 1.5 million vehicles in more than 70 countries, set up here last year, announcing an "aggressive" development plan through its alliance with Australian-owned rental company Redspot
About 30 per cent of Share-a-Camper's rental customers are Kiwis taking advantage of its lower rates.
New Zealand general manager for Redspot Steve Whyte said it had the local franchise for Enterprise and its National and Alamo brands.
He likened their arrival to a big airline or hotel chain setting up here, but said there was no intention to "go mad and appoint franchises all over the place".
Although the current focus was on tourism, they had other business in their sights.
"We've only been around for a few months but as time goes on we'll hopefully be part of government and airline tenders …so it should be easy to accelerate the growth".
The company has electric and hybrid hire vehicles in its overseas fleets and would look at introducing them here as it grew, Whyte said.
Snap Rentals director Jamie Bennettsaid increased competition from the likes of Redspot had led to an improvement in rental vehicle standards.
Snap took delivery of its first electric rental car on Thursday, and if the trial vehicle went down well, the company planned to have a fleet of 30 to 40 on the road by the end of the year.
Bennett said rule changes allowing electric vehicles (EVs) to use Auckland special vehicle lanes would be a big time saver for business customers flying in for the day and needing to get across town during rush hour.
"You'll be able to get to where you need to be so much quicker, so that's a huge convenience factor. And when you return the vehicle at the end of your hire, there's no need to refuel".
EV capacity was often an issue but Bennett said the Snap's trial electric Hyundai Ioniq had a range of 200-plus kilometres, and the Tesla EVs it had on order travelled even further before requiring a recharge.
Tourism Holdings Ltd (THL) is also looking at the potential for both hybrid and fully electric vehicles for its motorhome fleet.
Chief executive Grant Webster said their first chassis for an electric motorhome arrives this month, and a trial vehicle would be on the road by the end of the year.
He said electric vehicles were a good fit for THL because most hirers stayed in holiday parks where they plugged in to use appliances such as microwaves, and drive times for electric vehicles suited New Zealand touring itineraries.
"We're not Australia or the US where people do big eight hour driving days".
The emergence of peer-to-peer rentals is also having an impact on the rental market.
It effectively allows private owners of cars, camper vans and motorhomes to set themselves up as hire businesses.
Share-a-Camper launched two and a half years ago lists more than 300 vehicles on its website.
General manager Kris Johnstone said it was a great way for owners to get a return on vehicles that would otherwise sit idle for long periods of time.
The average 12 day hire paid $2500 and some people had bought second vehicles as an investment. "One Gore operator has made $22,000.
"The big (rental) companies only operate in the big cities whereas we operate everywhere from Invercargill to Kaitaia," Johnstone said.
Tourism Holdings hires out 400 privately-owned motorhomes through its subsidiary Mighway.
Webster said the rental service was a cheaper option and helped meet high demand over the summer.
Jucy Rentals chief operating officer Dan Alpe said their decision to buy a half share of YourDrive peer-to-peer car rentals last year was done with an eye to the future.
YourDrive has about 250 cars around the country with rentals for as little as $35 a day.
"The sharing economy is changing and evolving and for us this could be a foot in that space, future proofing us when it takes off", said Alpe.
[© 2017 Fairfax New Zealand]
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