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Hertz is bringing thousands of EVs and chargers to the city of Denver in a broad new partnership

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Tesla Model 3 electric vehicles at a Hertz airport location.
Photo by E.R. Davidson

Hertz is teaming up with the city of Denver — and soon, it hopes, with other cities — to build out its charging infrastructure to support the ongoing transition to electric vehicles.

The partnership is a big step toward helping rental car drivers, including those who may be renting an EV for the first time or in an unfamiliar area, to navigate the often-daunting task of finding a charge. It’ll also see Denver boost availability and education around EVs in a first-of-its-kind effort.

As part of the program, called “Hertz Electrifies,” the rental car company plans to add more than 5,000 EVs to its Denver fleet for daily customers as well as for ongoing rentals to drivers for ride-sharing services like Uber. To support those who rent the EVs, Hertz and its partner BP Pulse, the EV-charging network owned by oil giant BP, will also install public EV chargers at Denver International Airport and at sites around the city, with a focus on underserved communities.

That latter point is key to the deal. In addition to building chargers in lower-income neighborhoods, Hertz will provide EVs, tools and training to the city’s technical high school — and will offer summer job opportunities through Denver’s Youth Employment Program.

“Public private partnerships are very powerful vehicles,” said Hertz CEO Stephen Scherr in an interview with CNBC. “We see what’s happening in mobility, we see the direction of travel. And therefore we can be a force along with a very powerful city and mayor, to sort of move this forward in the way in which I think all of us would like to see, which is broad participation in electrification.”

Scherr said that Hertz plans to share anonymized location data from its rental EVs with the city to help Denver officials determine where to install new charging stations. He expects that some of that data will point to sites in the city’s less affluent neighborhoods, where ride-share drivers using Hertz EVs tend to live.

Denver’s mayor, Michael Hancock, said the city’s goal is to reduce its carbon emissions 80% by 2050, and to completely electrify the city’s own buildings and fleet by the end of this decade. He told CNBC that Hertz’s plan to focus on underserved neighborhoods and to train local students to service EVs could make this deal a “game-changer” for the city.

“I’m always worried about equity and how communities are left behind,” Hancock said in an interview. “Electrification is, I think, one advance in the move towards sustainability that’s going to move faster.”

Hertz previously announced plans to purchase up to 340,000 electric vehicles from Tesla, Polestar and General Motors by 2027. The company currently has about 40,000 Teslas and Polestars available for rental, Scherr said. He expects that number to double by year-end as EVs from GM join the company’s fleet.

Last fall, Hertz and BP Pulse announced they would partner to install thousands of high-speed EV chargers at Hertz locations across the U.S. Some of those chargers will be for the rental car giant’s exclusive use, but many — as in the Denver program — will be open to the public.

Hertz hopes to strike similar deals with other cities around the country. Scherr said the Denver partnership will serve as a template, one that he and Hancock plan to discuss at the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ winter meeting in Washington, D.C., this week.

“This is powerful to have a company like Hertz step up and say we want to do this so that we spread the opportunity in this new revolution in this industry,” Hancock said. “That’s a powerful deal. It’s a big deal for Denver, and it’s going to be a big deal for the nation as it spreads about.”

A Hertz spokesperson confirmed that the company is already in active discussions with other U.S. cities, but declined to be more specific.

“We obviously have a motive, which is to see our business grow,” Scherr said. “To the extent that that is in line with what a city like Denver wants to see, which is advancing sustainability, to put more electric vehicles on the street, to create new jobs in a very fast changing world of mobility, and advance electrification, in kind of a broadly distributed way across neighborhoods around a given city like this one, it’s good for the business of Hertz, it’s good for the city of Denver.”

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