Hertz is selling 20,000 used EVs due to high repair costs

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Written By Sedoso Feb

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Hertz

If you’re looking for an electric car bargain and you’re braver than the average bear, you might want to check out Hertz, the car rental agency. After announcing big plans to purchase tens of thousands of EVs from Tesla and then Polestar, it’s now liquidating a third of that fleet, the company told investors.

After Hertz went bankrupt during the early days of the pandemic, its big EV ambitions began in 2021, when the company revealed it wanted more than 20 percent of its rental fleet to be electric by 2022. To that end, it placed an order for 100,000 Tesla Model 3 sedans, then followed up with an order for 65,000 Polestar 2s.

By early 2023, it was still far short of the ambitious goal, in large part due to Tesla’s inability to actually fill that order in time, and EVs still represent just 11 percent of the total Hertz rental fleet. In total, the Hertz EV fleet is around 60,000 vehicles. But it may not actually be that upset at falling short—it turns out that the electric rental cars haven’t been the panacea it needed.

At the end of Q3 2023, Hertz told investors that significant price cutting during the year had “resulted in lower EV residual values, increasing vehicle depreciation expense and negatively impacting salvage cost.” Additionally, its rental EVs were damaged or crashed more often, and the much higher cost of repairs for Tesla vehicles—on average about 20 percent higher than other EVs—has meant that Hertz’s Teslas earn it less money per vehicle than its other rentals.

Consequently, it’s selling off 20,000 EVs over the course of this year. Currently, the company has over 700 EVs for sale, including 35 Chevrolet Bolts, four Kia EV6s, a single BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf, and then 673 Teslas—552 Model 3s and another 121 Model Ys.

Some of the used EVs are rather affordable—the cheapest Model 3 is just $20,125. A long-range Model Y will cost a fair bit more than that, although even here, the most expensive one for sale by Hertz is just $38,116. As a reminder, there is now a tax credit of up to $4,000 available when buying a used EV that costs less than $25,000, assuming one meets the income caps.

But they are all ex-rental cars, and that means most of these cars have had relatively hard lives and now have plenty of miles on them—the cheaper Model 3s are all closing in on 100,000 miles. Not all of them, though—in New Orleans, there’s a Kia EV6 up for sale with just under 5,000 miles.

Hertz says depreciation of $245 million for its EV assets will show up in the Q4 2023 financial results. The company plans to use some of the proceeds of the sale to purchase more gasoline-powered rental cars.

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