Charging up EV rentals with Europcar

April 12, 2024

Returning a rental car is a relatively simple process – that is if the car uses petrol or diesel. Most drivers return their cars with a full tank to avoid refuelling fees, and any vehicles brought back half-empty can be filled at a local service station in a matter of minutes by the rental car team. 

For those rental car companies looking to electrify some of their fleet however, the turnaround process is slightly more complex. Getting an electric vehicle’s (EV) battery back to a full charge takes longer than it does to refuel a petrol or diesel tank, and there’s also a possibility the closest public EV charger is already in use when you need to use it. This can create a bit of a headache for the business as they want to get the vehicle ready for the next customer as quickly as possible.

This was the challenge Europcar realised they had to solve in order to meet their electrification goals and aims. To create a charging solution that addressed their unique needs, Europcar turned to Z Energy (Z) for support.

According to Z’s Business Energy Solutions Manager, Andrew Bisset, the overriding questions for both Europcar and Z are, “How do we get people into EVs, and how do we make that experience as seamless as possible for our customers?”

Andrew says, “Europcar acknowledged that public EV charging wouldn’t meet their business needs effectively to enable them to provide an optimum customer experience. To do this, a significant part of their fleet electrification journey would be focused on enabling EV charging at Europcar sites.”

Z’s role was to implement a charging solution that worked for both Europcar and its customers.

In his role, Andrew is focused on helping businesses in their energy transition, which at this point in time is largely about supporting businesses looking to shift part or all of their fleet to EVs.

Andrew says Z’s approach to EV charging is bespoke: “It's all designed to a business’ specific needs and future plans. It’s about understanding when, where and how often they actually need to charge their cars, and then finding a solution that meets those needs.”

The collaboration between Z and Europcar started with a discussion about Europcar's fleet electrification goals and roadmap, before developing a bespoke, future-proofed charging solution. With a clear roadmap in place, the site assessment and installation process could begin. Along with installing the hardware, Z provides an easy-to-use software platform that lets its business customers centrally manage their charging infrastructure and collect data for reporting and billing purposes. Ongoing maintenance and 24/7 customer support is also provided as part of the offering.

Business customers aren’t short of options for EV charging, but Z has an offering that standard charging providers just can’t match, says Andrew. “Thanks to our growing network of public chargers, we’re able to provide an end-to-end charging solution – we can put EV chargers in employees’ homes, at their workplaces, and we can give them an offer to charge on a public network.”

And the advantages don’t end there. Because Z is also a supplier of traditional fuels, customers can meet their entire transport energy needs in one place, rather than using separate suppliers for EV charging and fuel.

On-site charging is now established at Europcar’s Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch airport locations as well as at their central Auckland location, and the company reports that they’re delighted with how the process played out. “Partnering with Z has made our fleet electrification journey easy and enabled us to add significant scale to our fast-growing EV offer” said Caddie Kerr, Head of Country NZ, at Europcar.

“We worked with Z from early in our journey, using their expertise to develop a bespoke solution that provides us with EV chargers at Europcar sites across the country. This not only assists in our decarbonisation plan but has allowed us to charge our EVs more efficiently, making them more readily available to our New Zealand customers. Z continues to manage the operational and maintenance requirements of these chargers, making it an easy process for our team and customers.”

The relationship has also been a rewarding one for Z, says Andrew. While the transition from traditional fuels to electric is important for many businesses, there’s no denying it introduces significant complexity into a customer’s business. “That’s why we’re focused on designing products and services that make the energy transition as easy as possible for our customers.”