Hertz is working with the City of Denver — and hopefully other cities soon — to build out its charging infrastructure to support the continued transition to electric vehicles.
The partnership is a big step towards helping car rental companies, including those renting an electric car for the first time or who are in an unfamiliar area, navigate the often daunting task of finding a charge. Denver will also boost availability and education around electric cars, the first of its kind.
As part of the program, dubbed “Hertz Electrify,” the rental car company plans to add more than 5,000 EVs to its Denver fleet for everyday customers and ongoing rentals to drivers for ride-sharing services like Uber. To support those renting the EVs, Hertz and its partner BP Pulse, the EV charging network of oil giant BP, will also install public EV chargers at Denver International Airport and locations around the city, with a focus on underserved communities.
That last point is key to the deal. In addition to building chargers in lower-income neighborhoods, Hertz will provide EVs, tools and training to the city’s technical high school — and will provide summer jobs through Denver’s Youth Employment Program.
“Public-private partnerships are very powerful vehicles,” Hertz CEO Stephen Scherr said in an interview with TBEN. “We’re seeing what’s happening in terms of mobility, we’re seeing the direction of travel. And so together with a very powerful city and mayor, we can be a force to move this forward in the way that I think we’d all like to see, that is broad participation in electrification.”
Scherr said Hertz plans to share anonymized location data from its rental EVs with the city to help Denver officials determine where to install new charging stations. He expects some of that data to point to locations in the city’s less affluent neighborhoods, where drivers who are part of driving Hertz EVs often live.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said the city’s goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 and to fully electrify the city’s buildings and vehicle fleet by the end of this decade. He told TBEN that Hertz’s plan to focus on underserved neighborhoods and train local students to service electric cars could make this deal a “game-changer” for the city.
“I always worry about equality and how communities are left behind,” Hancock said in an interview. “Electrification, I think, is a progression toward sustainability that will accelerate.”
Hertz previously announced plans to buy up to 340,000 electric vehicles from Tesla, Polestar and General Motors by 2027. The company currently has about 40,000 Teslas and Polestars available for rental, Scherr said. He expects this number to double by the end of the year as GM EVs join the company’s fleet.
Last fall, Hertz and BP Pulse announced they would be collaborating to install thousands of fast EV chargers at Hertz locations across the US. be open to the public.
Hertz hopes to strike similar deals with other cities across the country. Scherr said the Denver partnership will serve as a model, one he and Hancock plan to discuss at the winter meeting of the U.S. Mayors’ Conference in Washington, D.C., this week.
“This is powerful to have a company like Hertz come forward and say we want to do this so that we spread the opportunity in this new revolution in this industry,” said Hancock. “That’s a powerful deal. It’s a big deal for Denver, and it’s going to be a big deal for the nation as it spreads.”
A Hertz spokesperson confirmed that the company is already in active talks with other U.S. cities, but declined to be more specific.
“We clearly have a motive, which is to see our business grow,” Scherr said. “To the extent that is consistent with what a city like Denver wants to see, which is to promote sustainability, put more electric vehicles on the street, create new jobs in a very fast-changing world of mobility, and promote electrification, in a kind of widespread way about neighborhoods around a particular city like this, it’s good for Hertz’s business, it’s good for the city of Denver.