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ONE of the world’s big four car hire companies, Hertz, has appointed Gil West as CEO and board director to replace Stephen Scherr who stepped down after a failed bid to build a rental fleet dominated by battery electric vehicles (BEV).

Hertz said in January that the business was floundering under high repair costs and low demand for BEV rentals. It said the electric fleet, predominantly Tesla Model 3s, was dogged by excessive depreciation, “challenging” repair costs and high insurance premiums.

Mr Scherr (59), who led Hertz for two years after spending three decades with investment bankers Goldman Sachs, resigned after Hertz announced a decision to sell about 20,000 BEVs from its US fleet, representing about a third of its global inventory.

Stephen Scherr

That followed Hertz posting its biggest quarterly loss since 2020.

Wayne ‘Gil’ West (63) is the former chief operating officer of General Motors’ autonomous vehicle unit Cruise where he served from January 2021 to December 2023.

Prior to that, he served as senior executive vice president and COO of Delta Airlines from March 2014 to October 2020 and as senior vice president from March 2008 to March 2014.

Before joining Delta, Mr West was president and CEO of transport firm Laidlaw Transit Services from 2006 to 2007.

He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina State University in 1984, according to his LinkedIn page. He then earned an MBA from National University in 1990.

The reason for Mr Scherr’s resignation from Hertz centred on BEV holdings. Hertz said that around 80 per cent of its BEV fleet was Teslas, while around 11 per cent of its total fleet is now made up of electric vehicles.

Gil West

Hertz has around 50,000 BEVs on its fleet currently, meaning 35,000 of those are sourced from Tesla which is short of the 100,000 units it originally forecast at the end of 2022.

When it started on its BEV buying program, it focused on models from General Motors, Polestar, and Tesla.

It still has non-binding agreements with General Motors and Polestar for the supply of more than 200,000 BEVs over the next few years.

Cox Automotive reported that the depreciation of one-year-old Tesla Model 3s in the US in 2023 was up to 35 per cent of their value. Cox said that the loss was about twice the depreciation of a similar internal combustion vehicle.

By Neil Dowling

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