Your Guide to Hiring an Electric Car in Europe

27th August, 2021, in Global Hire Advice

Many car hire companies now offer a fleet of electric vehicles (EVs), so you can travel eco-consciously when you go abroad. It’s important to plan your trip carefully when using an EV, so you can ensure you’re always fully charged and ready for the journey.

Finding Charging Points

There are currently around 285,000 public chargers in Europe and the number is rapidly increasing thanks to investment in electric vehicle infrastructure. Norway is currently leading the way with the highest number of public charging points for EVs.

You can usually find public charging points in cities and larger towns. You should look at supermarkets, hotels, tourist attractions and also at service stations.

It’s advised you charge your electric vehicle battery to 80% for peak optimisation. However, you may want to charge it fully if you’re travelling long distances between charging points.

Charging a car takes longer than refuelling a petrol or diesel car, so you should allow time to accommodate this. A top tip from EV drivers is to schedule your charging time overnight or over meals so you don’t have to waste time waiting for your car to charge. If you’re driving a Tesla, you’ll find that Tesla offer a network of ‘Superchargers’ which can charge the vehicle to 80% in as little as 30 minutes.

There are a number of apps that can help you find public charging points, like Chargemap and PlugShare – these cover most of Europe. They also give you useful information like how long the charge is likely to take and if the charger is in order or not. Not all charging points are compatible with every type of electric vehicle, so you should check the connection type when you pick up your hire car. Some of the charger apps can filter by the type of connection you need, so you can plan your journey more efficiently. The apps can also let you know how to pay for the charge.

Paying for Charging Points

There are some EV charging points across Europe where you will be able to pay with a credit/debit card, but many require a special swipecard, key fob, or online payment via an app. These will require you to hold an account with the operator.

Plug Surfing, New Motion, and Chargemap all have charging networks over many countries in Europe. Other countries will have networks that are specific to that location but may cross borders in some places. There are services available where you can sign up to one account and use it across a number of networks.

Prices for charging will vary depending on the operator. Sometimes having an account with the provider will mean you get the best deals and lowest prices. Some operators offer pay-as-you-go but others will charge a flat rate for a month of access to their chargers.

Where to Drive

Most cities in Europe will have plenty of charging points – more so than more rural areas. However, getting stuck in traffic will drain the battery, making an EV much less efficient for city driving. If you’re visiting or passing through a city, try to avoid driving at peak times, especially if you’re low on battery. If you’re in a city at rush hour with an EV, you might find it better to find a charging point and wait for the worst of the traffic to pass.

Driving on the open road between cities will mean you can travel much further in a short space of time, but you should still be careful of your battery use. The faster you drive, the more power you will be using, so you’ll want to plan your journey accordingly so you know where you can stop to recharge if you have large sections of motorway driving to do.

Electric cars can typically travel between 125 miles and 340 miles on a single charge. This might sound like plenty, but using the aircon, listening to the radio and using the car to charge your phone will all drain the battery. You should leave plenty of time and leeway for distance between charging points when you’re driving an electric vehicle. Mapping out your route in advance, including the charging points, will mean you’ll always have plenty of charge in your vehicle.


If you hire an electric vehicle abroad, you’ll also have to get motor insurance with the hire company. Direct Car Hire Excess can protect you against high insurance excess charges with our car hire insurance excess cover. From as little as £0.12 / €0.14 / $0.16 per day, we can make sure you’re fully covered and won’t have to pay any excess charges if you have an accident. Contact us to discuss your situation or get a quote today.

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