It’s Nuts: Cheaper to Rent a Tesla Model 3 than an Economy Car

By Paul Gipe

We’re flying into Harrisburg, Pennsylvania this October to visit my brother. He’s installing a Level 2 charge station in his garage for one of his tenants. So I thought I’d check out Harrisburg’s International Airport to see if they rent EVs.

They do!

That was a shock. Pennsylvania’s not known as a hot bed for EVs. In fact the charging network around the state’s capitol is pretty bleak. They appear about a decade behind California. There’s a smattering of Level 2 stations and a few low-power DCFC stations at car dealerships and that’s about it.

Screenshot 2023-08-13 at 12-33-50 Rental Cars and Car Rentals at Harrisburg from Expedia

I pulled up the pricing to see what they had. All Tesla Model 3s for $65-$73 per day from Avis and Hertz.


When I paged down I was in for another shock. Budget is renting a Ford Focus for $1,000 per day—only $900 per day if you have an AARP discount! What?

I didn’t know there were Ford Focus’ still on the road. And if they were in a rental fleet no one in their right mind would rent one—and certainly not for $1,000 per day.

We don’t rent midsize cars. We go the economy route. So I pulled up the “economy” quotes.

Harrisburg car rentals economy

Third shock in as many minutes: $70 to $84 per day! Yikes.

It’s cheaper to rent a Tesla Model 3 than an economy box—and cheaper by far. The world has certifiably gone nuts.

Looks like I am going to learn how to drive a Tesla.