One of Australia’s biggest car rental firms has revealed plans to add 200 electric vehicles to its fleet in May, followed by another 300 later this year.
SIXT, which is owned by the NRMA, outlined its latest electric vehicle investment at an event in Sydney on Wednesday night, alongside partner BYD.
The Chinese brand, which became Australia’s second most popular electric vehicle maker last year, will supply “at least” 500 Atto 3 cars to SIXT’s fleet this year in an exclusive deal.
The investment will make the hire firm one of several to offer large numbers of electric vehicles for rent amid growing demand for the next-generation cars.
SIXT chief executive Michael Beattie said interest in renting an EV had accelerated over the last six months and the company planned to transition half of its 16,000-strong vehicle fleet to electric models within five years.
“As one of the largest fleet providers, we see a role to play to drive the transition to electric transport,” he said.
“We’re pumped that we’ve got so many people out there who are interested in electric vehicles.”
Mr Beattie said SIXT would make the first 200 BYD Atto 3 electric vehicles available for rent through its network on May 1, with models costing $90 a day to rent and offering a range of 400 kilometres.
Customers who rented one of the vehicles would also be able to recharge it for free at public NRMA and Chargefox stations, he said, in what customers could find to be a money-saver.
“‘No charge to recharge’ is our philosophy,” Mr Beattie said.
“When you rent (a petrol) vehicle, it’s a pretty well known thing that you have to fuel up before you return but fast-charging is pretty scarce and we don’t want to make having to recharge on return the customers’ problem.”
The new BYD cars will join 350 electric vehicles already offered through SIXT’s network.
But the company is not the only Australian firm to offer electric car rentals, with Hertz adding Polestar 2 electric vehicles to its fleet last year, and Europecar renting the MG ZS EV in Australia.
Electric car-sharing platform Evee also offers short-term rentals for vehicles from Tesla, Kia, MG, BMW, Volvo, and Polestar, and celebrated vehicles on its platform reaching a milestone of three million kilometres covered this week.
The platform, which is seeking $1.6 million in crowdfunding investment to expand internationally, also revealed on Wednesday that it had raised $727,000 in the first day of its fundraising campaign.
Australia has more than 83,000 electric vehicles on the roads, according to the Electric Vehicle Council, and is expected to see more than 100,000 electric cars later this year.