There was a time a few years ago when I felt like it was my job to try getting car rental agencies to hold electric vehicles on the lot.
Like it was up to me for some reason.
Since then, the industry got itself on-trend, and it appears they’ve stepped up.
I needed a vehicle replacement for at least two weeks, just for Pre-Kindergarten dropoffs and pickups.
This, after my 2017 LEAF was hit by a dump truck.
Despite publicized rental market waiting times, my local Hertz had plenty of inventory. If they didn’t, I’d have gone the app-based, peer-to-peer sharing route.
Of the inventory options, I instantly knew what I’d be deciding between.
My choice came down to the “Manager’s Special” – the cheapest sub-compact budget selection available…
…and an assortment of Tesla Model 3s.
Want to take a guess what I picked?
There have been no shortage of comprehensive reviews and breathless publication of the Model 3.
And no shortage of people impressed enough that they now drive one – I can see this simply by appearances driving around my town.
But I thought I’d journal my fresh experience coming to it as a non-Tesla EV driver.
It was impressive enough that the rental agency had not just one but a whole handful of Model 3s available, in various trims and ranges.
On the rental app, these were also the first cars shown.
Clearly, the rental companies were ready to jump on the EV bandwagon by the time the quintessential “American” EV brand released their mid-market model.
The rental agent gave me helpful tips to get started – how to enter and exit, to shift P-D-R-N, and how to open the basics of the touchscreen for music and climate.
He admitted that when the EVs first arrived, they came with a thick training manual, and he was a busy guy who wasn’t trying to jump in a memorize the thing, so he knows the basics.
This speaks to the continued need for staff enthusiasts at acquisition spots, if they’re to generate EV transaction volume for first-time EV drivers.
For vehicle impressions, everything about the Model 3 shouts “Steve Jobs was here,” or some such sentiment.
The infotainment and control system UX are seemingly seamless and top-notch.
The infinity roof is a marvel.
It’s more spaceship-like than my old LEAF while being less pod-like.
The key fob is a cross between an American Express card and an Illuminati membership card.
The multi-camera LIDAR display impressed me most of all, modeling on-screen the surrounding cars, pedestrians, stoplight signals and speed limit signs. It reminded me of a 3D polygonal tanks computer game I played as a teen, which inspired today’s AI art creation.
Driving’s been all city, but I know darn well what it can do on clear straightaways.
My wife’s caution to me?
Be careful getting used to a better car, because you’ll lose your excitement returning to what you have.
But if I took the Manager’s Special economy subcompact, would it have affected me enough to write about it?
Or for that matter, to create 3D retro-wave art in tribute?
I think I know the answer to that too.