For Emma Jarratt’s first vehicle purchase, the mother of two bought her 2019 Nissan Leaf without seeing it. “Some people I spoke to thought I was crazy for buying a car online,” she said.
But Jarratt didn’t make his decision without practical experience. She first reserved and tested a Leaf over a weekend last summer through the EVnet.ca website. This helped her confirm that the all-electric tailgate could fit well with her family and driving habits.
Jarratt’s test drove a Leaf with a 40-kilowatt-hour battery — which is rated to have a range of 243 kilometers — through Electric Vehicle Network, a Toronto-based used electric vehicle dealer that runs the website. It is a portal that gives potential buyers the opportunity to rent a used electric vehicle to see if it fits their lifestyle, discover different vehicle options and buy one.
After his test experience, Jarratt decided to order a 2019 Leaf Plus, with a 62 kilowatt-hour battery and a range of up to 363 kilometers. The EV Network was able to find and import one for her from California, and it arrived about two months after she placed her order.
“I wasn’t sitting in the car before I bought it, but I felt very confident since I already had that experience with it,” Jarratt said.
Jarratt works for ElectricAutonomy.ca, an industry site focused on zero emissions transportation, infrastructure and legislation in Canada. “I think all vehicles should be purchased this way.”
Darryl Croft, president of the Electric Vehicle Network, said enabling people to experience an electric vehicle is important when it comes to educating them about these vehicles.
“We’re not trying to rent just to make a deal later,” he said. The company realized that switching from gas-powered vehicles to electric vehicles involved a whole new set of questions regarding range (particularly in winter), fuel costs, road journeys and differences in fuel consumption. interview, Croft said.
“Sometimes people have 50 or 60 questions,” Croft said from his office in Etobicoke, where the showroom is located (currently by appointment only). The network has a fleet of five to eight plug-in vehicles available for hire at any time.
“Our philosophy is that by experiencing a vehicle through a rental, it provides that assurance.”
Another way to experience driving an electric vehicle in Canada is through Turo, an Airbnb-style website and app where private vehicles are available for rent. Cédric Mathieu, Turo’s vice-president in charge of Canada, said that the main advantages of renting through it are the wide choice of different electric vehicles available on its platform. Turo also offers the option of having the vehicle delivered to your doorstep.
He said there are about 750 active electric vehicles on the platform in Canada, ranging from small city-focused cars to all-new luxury models. Mathieu said the company does not officially track the number of renters on the platform who use it to test vehicles, but he notes that it is something that is often mentioned in user reviews of their overall experience. .
“Electric car owners are early adopters, so they’re often happy to evangelize the car,” he said. “It’s the most effective education strategy because it comes from someone who owns the car and helps people break through that technological barrier.”
Those interested in electric vehicles in the Greater Toronto Area also have the opportunity to test drive a variety of new vehicles through Plug ‘n Drive, a non-profit organization that puts them available at its electric vehicle discovery centre. It is home to an ever-changing fleet of new electric vehicles for consumers to try out and experience. It does not sell vehicles but can refer interested buyers to dealerships. Due to the pandemic, it also operates by appointment only.
Plug ‘n Drive founder and CEO Cara Clairman said the vehicles aren’t available overnight, but it offers a chance to try out different makes, models and back-to-back battery lines. Clairman said he bought his first electric vehicle in 2011 after testing it through a car-sharing program. She also knows people who bought theirs after renting it through EVNet.ca.
Car rental company Hertz announced last October that it had ordered 100,000 Tesla Model 3 sedans for delivery by the end of 2022. The company does not currently offer electric vehicles for rent in Toronto, but Hertz said it has non-Tesla electric vehicles in Vancouver, but only available locally and not through its website or phone reservation systems.
For Jarratt, owner of Leaf, the appeal of an electric vehicle goes beyond its extra-quiet driving feel and lower fuel costs.
“It’s not just about cars, it’s about science, technology, the environment, there are so many aspects that make electric vehicles really exciting,” she said. “I never thought I would be one of those people who was passionate about my car.”