DETROIT, AP – Hertz is going to buy 100,000 electric vehicles from Tesla, one of the largest purchases of battery-powered cars in history and the latest evidence of the US nation’s increasing commitment to EV technology.

The purchase by one of the world’s leading rental car companies reflects its confidence that electric vehicles are gaining acceptance with environmentally minded consumers as an alternative to vehicles powered by petroleum-burning internal combustion engines.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Mark Fields, Hertz’ interim CEO, said that Teslas are already arriving at the company’s sites and should be available for rental starting in November.

Hertz said in its announcement that it will complete its purchases of the Tesla Model 3 small cars by the end of 2022. It also said it will establish its own electric vehicle charging network as it strives to produce the largest rental fleet of electric vehicles in North America.

Fields wouldn’t say how much Hertz is spending for the order. But he said the company has sufficient capital and a healthy balance sheet after having emerged from bankruptcy protection in June.

The deal likely is worth around $US4 billion because each Model 3 has a base price of about $40,000. It also ranks at the top of the list of electric vehicle orders by a single company. In 2019, Amazon ordered 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian, a startup manufacturer of electric van, pickup trucks and SUVs. Amazon is an investor in Rivian.

The Hertz order helped send the price of Tesla shares jumping to an intraday record of $US997.57, before pulling back slightly by Monday afternoon.

In his interview with the AP, Fields made clear his belief that electric vehicles are increasingly moving into the mainstream and that Hertz intends to be a leading provider of EVs to rental customers. He pointed to surveys showing that over the past five years, consumer interest in electric vehicles has grown dramatically.

Hertz also is investing in its own charging network.

Customers also would be able to use Tesla’s own large charging network for a fee, Fields said. The company has a network of about 25,000 chargers worldwide.

Fields declined to say how much Hertz will charge to rent the Teslas or whether they would be more expensive for customers than gas-powered vehicles.

Daniel Ives, a technology analyst at Wedbush Securities, wrote in a note Monday to investors that Hertz’s order represents a “major feather in the cap” for Tesla and shows that a broad adoption of electric vehicles is under way “as part of this oncoming green tidal wave hitting the U.S.”

China and Europe have been ahead of the US on vehicle electrification. But demand in the United States is accelerating.