This is one of the most commonly asked questions relating to ‘Green’ limousine hire.
In fact, there are electric limousines out there such as the Tesla-S and a much larger number of hybrids. Even so, they’re still a comparative rarity for limousines hire. Some clients might well ask then, “Where are the electric limos?“
The nature of limousine hire
There are a number of things that make a fleet manager’s job a major challenge when it comes to a limo hire operation.
- As with any hire operation, it’s important to achieve a very high percentage utilisation figure.
- Infinite flexibility is required. Urgent requirements can come in at a few minutes’ notice and vehicles must just be ‘ready to go’.
- If a problem arises with a vehicle, it needs to be fixed quickly, easily and preferably cheaply.
- Vehicles must deliver outstanding reliability as well as executive comfort.
It’s in some of these areas that some problems arise for the present generation of electric luxury vehicles.
Limitations of electric luxury limos
Nobody seriously questions the vast progress that’s been made in this area within the past 10 years or so. It’s also difficult to find anybody that believes further revolutionary progress won’t be likely over the next decade too.
However, from a fleet manager’s perspective, the current generation of luxury limos asks a few unanswerable questions.
- Re-charging. At the time of writing, many vehicles in this class still need to be plugged into a mains electricity system to re-charge over several hours. During that time, they’re effectively unavailable for use. If it’s empty, a conventional fuel car can just be taken to the local garage and filled – a total elapse time of perhaps 20 minutes.
There are discussions underway relating to fast swap-out batteries, though that has implications for cost with lots of spare batteries being required. Fast-charge batteries are apparently on the horizon as are in-road charge as you go systems.
Unfortunately though, they’re not here yet and that means the ‘down time’ per vehicle is potentially unacceptable.
- Range and flexibility. Imagine the real-life situation where a client wishes to extend the hire by several hours due to changing business circumstances. In the case of a conventional vehicle that’s a non-issue but if the vehicle’s electric and its charge is low, then it’s not going to be possible without swapping vehicles.
- Support Infrastructure. At the moment, comparatively few garages and mechanics have much experience of dealing with all-electric vehicles. In one sense, they’re arguably simpler than an internal combustion engine but they do make even heavier use of solid-state electronics than conventional vehicles.
Until they’re more numerous on the roads, many fleet managers will worry about how easily parts can be obtained or how quickly things can be fixed if they go wrong. It’ll be particularly important to be sure that nationwide support coverage and familiarity with the technology is available, including in rural areas, before this worry will go away.
What’s likely in future?
Most fleet managers and limousine hire providers will be keeping a close eye on the technology as it develops.
There may be some natural reluctance to become an ‘early adopter’ and run the risk of being the guinea pig so to speak but this technology is coming and it will make an impact in the limo hire marketplace.