Austin-based rental company Outdoorsy is planning to build a fully-electric fleet of trucks to tow its rental trailers, and it’s approached Rivian with an order for 1,000 EVs. This is just another recent report of a rental company showing interest in fully-electric vehicles, which can only bode well for these machines. Unless they end up being bad at towing trailers, but that remains to be seen.
Outdoorsy’s proposed EV fleet also involved Ford, as Bloomberg reports, but it’s unclear how Ford factors in, now that both it and Rivian backed out of the joint development of a fully-electric SUV. It’s possible that Outdoorsy could be interested in Ford’s commercial F-150 Lightning Pro.
Either truck would probably suit Outdoorsy’s needs as an RV rental company. The company looks like an off-grid spin on Airbnb, specializing in trailers and campers. It’s based in Austin, per Bloomberg, but you can find their rentals throughout the U.S., seemingly nearby many well-known state or national parks. The company saw a surge in rentals during the pandemic as people went looking for a relatively safe outlet to the lockdowns.
Outdoorsy says even as flights and other travel resumed, the demand for its rentals has been steady. It expects demand to continue through 2022, which is why it’s planning to build an EV fleet. And I guess it wouldn’t hurt for the company to have an eco-friendly and high-tech appeal. Given the many vehicles Outdoorsy rents, I think it’s missing an opportunity to outfit a bunch of Ford E-Transit vans as campers, but the pickups are a good start.
If the Rivian and Ford deal goes through, I’d be most interested in seeing the real-world effect that towing will have on the total range of the Lightning and R1T. But even if Rivian agrees to the sale, Bloomberg says delivery of the EVs won’t happen until 2023.
Outdoorsy’s plan for 1,000 EV trucks from Rivian is on a smaller scale than Hertz asking for 100,000 Teslas, but increasing the number of electric pickups on the road right now, on any scale (like with corporate or rental fleets,) puts these trucks in contact with people who might’ve otherwise dismissed them. Especially in the context of towing a trailer.