Hertz is teaming up with oil giant BP to build a new network of electric vehicle charging stations throughout the United States.
The rental car giant — which in the last year has announced deals to purchase a total of up to 340,000 EVs from Tesla, Polestar and General Motors by 2027 — is working with a unit of BP to install thousands of new chargers at its U.S. locations.
Under the deal, BP Pulse, the oil company’s EV-charging arm, will install the chargers and provide software and services to help Hertz manage its fast-growing fleet of EVs.
While many of the chargers will be used to recharge EVs in Hertz’s own fleet, some will be made available to taxi and ride-hailing drivers and the general public, the companies said. Access to chargers is often cited as a potential roadblock to wider EV adoption by U.S. consumers.
The new deal builds on an existing program under which BP Pulse installed chargers at 25 of Hertz’s busiest airport locations. They did not specify how many they plan to eventually build.
Hertz already has thousands of EVs available for rent at about 500 of its locations in 38 U.S. states, where it has been installing its own chargers. It expects to have about 3,000 chargers in operation at its sites across the U.S by the end of 2023.
The company plans to have EVs make up a quarter of its fleet by the end of 2024.
Vic Shao, who leads BP Pulse’s fleet business, told CNBC that the new deal will include software to help Hertz manage the complex task of keeping its growing EV fleet charged and ready to rent.
“When you have gasoline or diesel, you have a scenario where the pricing for the fuel is up or down by maybe you know, 25%, a given year or something like that,” Shao told CNBC. But in some markets, like California, “prices can be up and down by 400% a day for electricity.”
“So when you’re operating a large-scale fleet, unless you have a fix on the cost of your ‘fuel,’ electricity in this case, it’s very difficult to scale up. You need to get a handle on the operational expense,” he said.
Shao said that BP Pulse’s fleet software will help Hertz reduce its electricity costs by scheduling vehicles to recharge at lower-cost times of day, part of helping to manage what he called the “choreographed dance” of keeping a fleet of EVs fully charged and ready for customers.
In addition to chargers and software to serve Hertz’s own fleet, the two companies plan to build chargers that will be available to the general public, taking advantage of Hertz’s high-traffic locations throughout the country. The companies expect ride-hailing drivers, particularly those who rent EVs from Hertz, to be prime customers for those chargers.
Hertz said that more than 25,000 Uber drivers have rented Teslas under its deal with the ride-hailing giant.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct that the 3,000 chargers Hertz plans to install by the end of this year are separate from its deal with BP.