Butts in seats sell cars

Tesla has long believed in the butts-in-seats theory of selling cars: get someone behind the wheel and they will fall in love. In the early days of the company, journalists were given the Model S or X for long weekends, and drive events were held for potential customers. Word of mouth was key: existing customers became brand ambassadors, giving rides and evangelizing Tesla to family members and friends.

Monday’s deal with Hertz is the biggest butts-in-seats move of them all. The rental car company will buy 100,000 Tesla cars — mostly Model 3s — by the end of 2022. Starting in November and through the end of the year, Tesla rentals will be rolling out to cities across the U.S., including Atlanta, Austin, Nashville, New Orleans and Tulsa.

Until now, it’s been very hard to rent a purely electric car at an airport. When I flew to Baltimore this past summer, the most fuel-efficient car I could reserve was a Toyota Prius. The Hertz deal represents a sea change in giving consumers more options.

You’ll be able to rent a Tesla for $299/week…insured. And, BTW, Hertz says Uber drivers will be eligible to rent them.

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