Business travelers don’t give a beep about electric cars

When it comes to electric cars, lots of business travelers don’t rent them.

BCD Travel surveyed more than 900 business travelers in North America and Europe who rented a car at least once last year. The survey looked at traveler behavior and satisfaction as well as trends in car rental for business travel. According to the survey, most business travelers rent a car to visit their company’s office, meet with clients or provide onsite service. The most important reasons for renting a car instead of using other means of transportation are convenience (64%), speed (36%), lack of alternatives (32%) and price (30%). With the current emphasis and urgency around sustainability, electric vehicles (EVs) would seemingly be a top rental choice among conscientious business travelers. That’s just not so.

Remarkably, 81% of respondents said they never rent an electric car on a business trip. This is mainly because of complex logistics (46%), low availability at the rental location (35%) and short range (33%). Sustainability rarely impacts their choice: only 9% take sustainability into consideration, while 70% never or rarely think of sustainability when selecting a car. Twelve percent reported their company’s policy doesn’t include electric cars.  

Olivia Ruggles Brise BCDs vice president of Sustainability

“This survey shows there’s still a significant challenge when it comes to promoting the use of electric vehicles (EVs) for business travel,” said Olivia Ruggles-Brise, BCD’s vice president of Sustainability. “This reflects the wider challenges of infrastructure and range that impact the uptake of EVs in general. Nevertheless, moving from petrol vehicles to electric will become increasingly important as new legislation requires companies to measure and report the carbon emissions of their business travel.” 

Those who rent electric cars are motivated by sustainability (51%), their desire to try an electric vehicle (29%) and wide availability at the rental location (24%). Only 4% say their company’s policy encourages renting electric cars. 

Here are some tips on what companies can do: 

  • Start by making EVs available to those travelers who wish to rent them. 
  • Identify locations where charging infrastructure is advanced. 
  • Encourage travelers to try EVs in those locations.  
  • Provide further guidance on the benefits and opportunities of EVs in order to build awareness and confidence. 


Car rental trends: Policy, risks, booking and behavior 

BCD’s researchers looked at multiple aspects of car rental for business travelers. The report is helpful for travel managers and other travel program stakeholders looking to create company guidelines for booking rental cars or finetuning the travel policy to align traveler behavior with travel program goals. More findings are summarized below.  

Policy and decision-making 

Company policy (69%) has the biggest influence on travelers’ car rental choice. Other factors include the convenience of the pick-up location (46%), price (34%) and loyalty programs (33%).  


The majority of business travelers book rental cars through their company’s online booking tool (88%), while 13% book via a travel agent and 12% book via the car rental website. Intermediate/standard cars are rented most often (66%), followed by compact/economy cars (19%). SUVs are rented by only 3%.  


When selecting additional car rental services, travelers primarily opt for convenience. A quarter make use of pick-up and drop-off at different locations. Over half of travelers report their companies encourage refueling rental cars before returning (64%) and sharing a rental car with colleagues (53%). Prepaying for fuel, returning the car with an empty tank and buying insurance from a car rental supplier are used by a tenth. 


When it comes to risks, 39% of travelers have experienced risky situations when driving a rental car. The most frequently reported risks vary from driving while tired, after a long-haul flight or in unfamiliar location, to encountering bad weather and car problems. Car accidents and stolen cars are reported very rarely.  

Traveler satisfaction 

Around eight in 10 travelers are fairly to extremely satisfied with their company’s car rental policy and suppliers. The majority (64%) have experienced no issues with their company’s car rental policy in the past twelve months. However, when it comes to car rental suppliers, almost a third complain about low fleet availability (33%) and availability of the preferred car type (29%). 

For more insights from our 2024 car rental survey, click below.  


For support with developing or improving current car rental guidelines, BCD clients should contact their program manager. Not a client? Contact us

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