Electric cars have made the move into hire vehicles, providing travellers with an environmentally friendly motoring option.

Europcar swept up the title as being the first major car rental company to offer a fleet of electric vehicles and has this year extended availability of the e-Golf from Auckland and Christchurch to now include Wellington. The expansion gives travellers the chance test out the experience of driving the vehicles, but it’s important to make clients aware of the different driving habits necessary.

When hiring electric vehicles, travellers need to be conscious a number of things.

A car’s real driving range capability — even though it may show 292 kilometres at the start of the journey, this range does not take into consideration the terrain of the roads. Terrain such as hills can drastically impact on the driving range.

Charging time — Depending on the range left, cars take approximately 35 to 45 minutes to fully charge at a fast charge station. Charging via a standard plug socket can take up to 18 hours. Most stations only have one fast charge station per location, which needs to be accounted for when planning a journey, especially if there is another car on charge when a traveller arrives.

Locating and using a charging station — PlugShare is a great app for locating all charge stations. Ensure clients know to check in when arriving at a PlugShare and check out when finished, so other electric vehicle drivers can see if a car is on charge. Although a car may be finished charging, the charging plug cannot be removed while the car is locked.

Forward planning — Due to limited mobile phone reception and availability in certain areas, forward planning is vital. Travellers should be aware of the availability of charging stations and their speed well before arriving in their destination or waypoint.

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