Electric transport is transforming the world of travel – and it’s ready for a boom.
With fuel prices rising, electric buses, car and scooters offer a pocket-friendly alternative to their gas-guzzling counterparts.
Low-emission electric vehicles, or EVsalso meet the growing desire for sustainable travel.
The electric travel trend is already taking shape: in FranceIn the Languedoc region, visitors can take an off-road electric scooter tour the vineyards along the Canal du Midi. In Iceland, tourists can quietly watch whales in one electric boat.
From Cuba to Copenhagen and countless destinations in between, e-bike have become a ubiquitous part of the travel landscape over the past five years. Their appeal is even more pronounced in places like the Yorkshire Dales and the French Alps, where the hilly terrain prevents most tourists from attempting such rigorous pedaling.
So how will the e-travel trend thrive in 2023?
Electrified travel will become more accessible in 2023
Traveling on two wheels is not a new idea, although the rise of e-bikes and e-scooters has certainly made this way of TRANSPORTATION much more accessible. Names like TIER, Lime and Bolt have brought pay-per-minute rental schemes to cities across Europe – and cities around the world are catching up
An organization promoting micromobility – the use of e-scooter and e-bikes to travel short distances in urban areas – is NUMO, the New Urban Mobility alliance. In partnership with around 150 governments and businesses across the globe, its aim is to help the transition to shared, electric and active modes of transport.
“Visitors traditionally travel to a city using the most intuitive and accessible way TRANSPORTATION”, says Carlos Pardo, a senior advisor at NUMO. Electric vehicles tick the intuitive box by expanding the area that tourists can visit easily, independently and flexibly, without being too exhausting. Now, they are also becoming accessible.
Carlos is based in Bogota, Colombia, where South America’s leading bike-sharing system, Tembici, recently debuted. In a city that hosts a weekly Ciclovia Sunday, when many streets are closed to encourage active exploration by bike or feet, the scheme is likely to cut well.
Tembici will soon introduce e-bikes as part of its fleet of 3,500 in Bogota. “It will be fantastic for commuters to rent by the day, as is the case in many cities around the world,” says Carlos.
E-sleds and e-safaris will offer intimate, low-impact experiences in nature
Beyond e-bikes, destinations are looking for new ways to utilize electric vehicles. Acoustic pollution and carbon emissions are both key factors in the push for electric transportation options. By using near-silent, carbon-neutral transportation, visitors can enjoy an enhanced experience while reducing environmental concerns and disruptions to local communities and wildlife.
For example, in Finnish Lapland Electric snowmobiles, or e-sleds, offer a quiet, clean, and durable way to tackle snowy landscapes and resident deer without the need for carbon-powered sleds or sleds.
EVs are gradually making their way into the safari industry for similar reasons – countries want to welcome tourists without damaging their delicate ecosystems or disturbing wildlife. Although the trend is in the east, lodges like Lewa Wilderness in Kenya and Cheetah Plains in South Africa are driving change.
At Cheetah Plains, safari tours are conducted in Toyota EV Land Cruisers powered by Telsa batteries that are recharged via their private solar plant. The benefits are many.
“[Electric vehicles] leave less CO2 emissions, have no risk of oil spill leaks in lodges and eliminate the high cost of delivering gas to lodges, including the impact on roads and infrastructure from the spread of oil crossing remote areas,” says Peter Dros, head of sales and marketing at Cheetah Plains.
In addition to supporting low-impact travel, EVs improve the experience for safari the goers.
“[Electric vehicles] they make it much easier for photographers to cover small distances to avoid a blade of grass or a leaf without touching the animals,” says Peter. “Also, guests can hear better beast calls, which often indicate nearby predators.”
In Tanzania, E-Motion has an ambitious plan to pave the way for more sustainable tourism. Upgrade of safari vehicles and electric motor buses, opening of charging points between Arusha and Serengeti National Parks and introduction e-moto bike towards the country are their main initiatives. They hope to have improved charging point technology by July 2023 to ensure EV batteries can be fully recharged within 30 minutes.
Electric vehicle rentals will become more common in 2023
EVs face several key challenges in the holiday market: availability of charging stations, high costs, driving range and availability of rental vehicles. In 2023, vehicle costs are expected to fall, charging range will increase and many countries will invest in more charging points.
Request for EVs is huge, outstripping the speed at which manufacturers can deliver new cars and creating year-long wait times for buyers in the wake of COVID and the war in Ukraine. However, electric vehicles are becoming easier to find for commuting car rental where demand is high despite broader market constraints.
Rental giant Hertz has been working with manufacturers to expand its EV fleet since 2019.
“In the context of our European fleet, our percentage of electric vehicles against ICE [standard engine] vehicles will overtake the wider market and, depending on supply, could reach 5 percent of our total fleet by the end of 2022,” says Alan Melady, head of strategy at Hertz Europe.
The leasing company concentrates its EV fleet in locations where demand is highest and the charging infrastructure is there to support it. Europe is the leader, thanks to the EU’s aim to phase out the sale of cars and vans with new combustion engines by 2035. Hertz’s European EV fleet is spread across 80 cities, concentrated in countries including the UK, NetherlandsFrance, Germany and Ital.
To remove the need for multiple charging station apps, Hertz provides renters with a Shell Recharge key fob, which allows quick and easy access to 300,000 charging points across Europe.
Meanwhile, in compact and ecologically delicate destinations like Bermuda, electric vehicles are the only rental option available to tourists. This helps the island reduce pollution and limit the environmental impact of visitors.
Despite ongoing anxiety over the availability of electric vehicle chargers, renting e-cars will become a more realistic option for travelers next year – especially in Europe and the US.
The electrified getaway trend is explored in more detail in Expedia and Euronews Travel’s Trend Report.