Hertz Follows Big GM EV Deal With BP Pulse Charge Station Tie-up

A week after announcing its intention to buy up to 175,000 electric vehicles over five years from General Motors
GM
Corp. rental car giant Hertz Corp. announced a major step Tuesday to complete the other half of the EV equation—keeping its growing fleet charged.

In a joint release, Hertz and BP Pulse, formerly Amply Power, announced a memorandum of understanding to develop a national network of charging stations at Hertz locations across North America.

“Electrification, while we certainly think the tide is turned that’s where customers will go. We believe that has taken place,” said Jeff Nieman, Hertz Senior Vice President- Operations Initiatives in an interview with Forbes.com. “We’re gonna lead ahead of all in that, at the same time we really believe things are going to go more shared. We want be able to get (people) from where they are to where they want to be in a shared way and an electrified way.”

BP Pulse is oil and gas company BP’s global electrification and charging solution brand created by the 2021 acquisition of Amply which already had an ongoing relationship with Hertz setting up EV charging stations at 25 U.S. airports.

That relationship provided a great deal of the impetus for this expanded relationship according to Vic Shao, president of BP Pulse’ fleet division in the Americas, and founder of Amply.

“While we were doing the work with Hertz setting up the infrastructure for their rental locations at big airports around the U.S, we starting having conversation about, that’s a lot of chargers, how are we going to manage it all?” Shao told Forbes.com.

BP Pulse will both build and manage the charging stations at Hertz locations. Indeed, managing such an extensive charging network for a commercial fleet of tens of thousands of electric vehicles is a challenge, one which BP Pulse will handle with its proprietary Omega software.

Hertz’s Jeff Nieman says Omega solves issues unique to a rental car company, explaining, “different than other fleets, we’re turning vehicles around very rapidly in the rental space and we need a solution that’s custom. We’ve got an ambition for BP Pulse to help us build out our internal network that’s powered by Omega so that gives us confidence that we can provide a state of charge to Hertz customers and meeting our commitment to them when they rent a car.”

Shao explains Omega handles three key issues: workflow management to make sure rental vehicles are fully charged when customers pick them up; up time and reliability to ensure the chargers are in working order and compatible with a variety of EV makes and brands; energy management which provides operators an accurate picture of energy cost and use.

That last point is perhaps the most critical because the cost of electricity is much more volatile than gasoline or diesel fuel, fluctuating as much as 400% on a given day, Shao said, explaining, “Unless a fleet operator has a great deal of confidence in what your cost will be the next month or year they can’t scale, can’t transition 100% of their vehicles to electric unless they have certainty in their budgets. So the energy management component of Omega is key.”

Aside from providing charging capacity for Hertz’s expanding EV inventory, BP Pulse’s Vic Shao points out the move will also provide charge points for professional drivers who might otherwise find it difficult to locate one.

“We’ve done a lot of demographic studies, on where Uber
UBER
drivers and Lyft
LYFT
drivers, ride share drivers and taxi drivers, what parts of a given city do they live in, what parts of the city do they operate in,” said Shao. “A lot of these locations are, quite frankly, under served. It just so happens that they match up very, very well to locations that Hertz operates from. We believe by setting up these charging stations we will help the greater ride share and taxi communities transition to electric a lot faster.”

While Hertz is looking to create a charging network to keep its rental vehicles running, Nieman explains as part of its partnership it will “share data with BP Pulse to help them build out a public network that anybody can use.”

The deal to expand its current EV fleet of mostly Tesla
TSLA
and Polestar vehicles to include those built by GM is just the start of a broader plan by Hertz to transform its rental inventory from one dominated by internal combustion engine cars and trucks.

“Today we’ve got over 500 locations with EVs available across 38 states,” said Nieman. “In light of the GM news, we expect that to expand dramatically. As you get through the full allotment EVs will be ubiquitous across the Hertz locations. One-quarter of the fleet by 2024 we want to be electrified. That’s our goal.”

According to a company fact sheet Hertz is on track to have 3,000 charging stations at its locations by the end of this year.

Nieman revealed Hertz isn’t done EV shopping, telling Forbes.com the company intends to have a “diversified” fleet and is speaking with “multiple manufacturers at the highest levels to ensure that we can capture enough EV supply to meet our objectives.”

The combination of Hertz’s deals with GM and BP Pulse are further evidence of an overall shift away from petroleum-powered vehicles, observed Scott Painter, CEO, EV subscription company Autonomy.

“Electrification is coming and these orders reflect that. It’s clear that as OEMs begin to scale production that consumers will have many options to try driving an electric car but in a world where all cars being manufactured are electric, deploying electric vehicles into rental fleets makes perfect sense,” Painter told Forbes.com in an emailed response to our questions. “It will also force the acceleration of the charging infrastructure as electric car rental vehicles and rideshare usage depending on electric cars will put the greatest strain on the DC fast charging system.”

With Hertz moving quickly to increase and transform its EV fleet, BP Pulse’s Vic Shao says his company needs to move just as fast, declaring, “Hertz has grand ambitions and we are their infrastructure partner so we just have to keep up.”

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