Do Electric Cars Make Good Rentals?

National Geographic Traveler editor at large Christopher Elliott is the magazine’s consumer advocate and ombudsman. Over the past 15 years he has helped countless readers fix their trips.

Here’s his latest advice:

Reader Question: Can I rent an electric car for my summer road trip?

My Answer: You mean, is it practical to do so? Car rental companies have started adding electric vehicles, most famously the sleek Tesla Model S, which costs a steep $400 or more a day.

In 2010, Enterprise introduced a fleet of Nissan Leafs, and it now offers plug-in cars in select cities.

But even if you can find one to rent, Chris Brown, the executive editor of Auto Rental News, cautions against it for a road trip, warning that most electric vehicles have ranges of less than a hundred miles. “In a new environment without knowledge of where to recharge, it doesn’t make sense,” he says.

A more affordable and readily available option is a hybrid such as a Toyota Prius. Or, Brown recommends an extended-range hybrid vehicle such as a Chevy Volt or a Ford Fusion, which drinks gas when the electric battery is out of juice.

Christopher Elliott is Traveler magazine’s consumer advocate and pens the “Problem Solved” column for the magazine (this exchange appeared in the February 2015 issue). Follow Christopher’s story on Twitter @elliottdotorg.

Do you have a burning travel question? Share it with us in the comments section below for a chance to appear in Traveler magazine.


  1. Victoria
    May 6, 2015, 7:02 pm

    Great article! I hate wasting money on rental cars. I always end up with a great deal by looking for promo codes. Almost all of the rental car companies have them if you look on a coupon website.

  2. Christine Taylor
    April 7, 2015, 3:36 am

    Waoh a real co0l idea to save money for us crazy travelers.

  3. Diana Wright
    San Francisco
    April 5, 2015, 11:09 pm

    at Dollar this week in LA we were told to choose from a line of cars. We were pleased to see a Prius and climbed in. Then we sat there and then we climbed out. We had absolutely no idea how to work it!

  4. Pam
    New Jersey, USA
    April 3, 2015, 10:22 pm

    Where can you rent these type of vehicles? This is a great post. I travel a lot. I write for and I was just told they are predicting gas prices are going to go back through the rough. Travel photography can get expensive. Saving money on gas in the future would be great.