BCD: Less Than 20 Percent of Business Travelers Rent EVs

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Many corporations have announced sustainability goals, but ensuring their business travelers rent electric vehicles is part of few companies’ strategies, according to a new BCD Travel survey.

About 81 percent of responding business traveler respondents do not rent electric cars on a business trip, according to the survey, which the travel management company shared with BTN. About 13 percent of all respondents “rarely” rent electric cars, while 1 percent “always” do so.

The reasons respondents offered for not booking electric options included “complex logistics” (46 percent), “low availability at the rental location” (35 percent) and “short range” (33 percent). 

About 12 percent noted that their company policy does not include electric vehicles.

Sustainability also rarely influences a business traveler’s car rental choice: Just 9 percent said they “often” or “always” are guided by environment considerations, while 46 percent said they “never” are.

Still, of those who do rent EVs for business trips, 18 percent indicated that their employers encourage them to rent electric cars, while 51 percent cited the cars’ “lower environmental impact.”

Among other reasons why business travelers rent EVs for business trips: 29 percent wanted to “try an electric car,” 24 percent cited “wide availability at the car rental location,” and 20 percent own an EV and “know how it works.”

EV rentals often can come at a premium cost compared with gas-powered vehicles, and 18 percent of BCD respondents cited higher rental cost as a reason why they do not rent EVs. Another 18 percent simply are not comfortable driving an EV.

The findings come two weeks after Hertz announced it was selling 20,000 EVs in the United States, about one-third of its global EV fleet, citing higher maintenance and repair costs as one reason for the fleet readjustment. It also is replacing those cars with gas-powered vehicles “to meet customer demand.”

“This survey shows there’s still a significant challenge when it comes to promoting the use of electric vehicles for business travel,” BCD VP of sustainability Olivia Ruggles-Brise said. “This reflects the wider challenges of infrastructure and range that impact the uptake of EVs in general. Nevertheless, moving from petrol vehicles to electric will become increasingly important as new legislation requires companies to measure and report the carbon emissions of their business travel.”

Other Findings

BCD reported that about 54 percent of respondents typically visit two or more locations when renting a car for business.

About 38 of respondents have rented a car to visit the company office, while 37 percent have done so to attend a client meeting and 34 percent have done so to provide onsite support or service. About 28 percent cited training or teambuilding. 

More than nine in 10 (93 percent) have picked up their rental cars at airport locations, while 12 percent have done so near their home for local travel. Just 4 percent cited a pick-up at a train station and 3 percent in a city center.

The top three influencing factors when renting a car for business include the employer’s policy (69 percent), convenience (46 percent) and price (34 percent). Thirty-three percent cited a loyalty program.

Though car rental suppliers have increased their fleets since the peak of the pandemic, just 9 percent of respondents said they believed availability had increased during the past year and 33 percent said they believed it went down. About 43 percent said they believed it remained the same.

With price one of the top factors for rentals, 42 percent said they believed car rental prices increased in 2023. Costs stayed the same for 34 percent of respondents. Just 1 percent said prices declined.

Methodology 

BCD surveyed 919 business travelers in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa who had rented a car at least once in the past 12 months. The survey was conducted Dec. 13-20, 2023. About 68 percent were from North America. Ten percent were Millennials, while Baby Boomers and Gen X respondents were equally split at 45 percent each.

The top three industries for respondents included manufacturing (22 percent), life sciences (17 percent), and aerospace and defense (15 percent).

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