ACRA President Sharky Laguana outlines an industry EV agenda on March 16, 2024 during the International Car Rental Show in Las Vegas. He said technology and battery advances in coming years will...

ACRA President Sharky Laguana outlines an industry EV agenda on March 16, 2024 during the International Car Rental Show in Las Vegas. He said technology and battery advances in coming years will yield EVs with longer ranges, faster charging times, and lower costs than internal combustion engine vehicles, and that fleets should prepare.

Photo: Martin Romjue / Bobit

The rental car industry has gained some inside access in steering the evolving transition to electric vehicles.

The president of the American Car Rental Association, Sharky Laguana, took a seat earlier this year on the Joint Office on Energy and Transportation’s Electric Vehicle Working Group. The advisory committee has 24 working members, all pointed by Transportation Secretary Peter Buttigieg and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.

As the leader of ACRA and CEO of Bandago of San Francisco, California, Laguana joins an advisory committee of 24 working members, who all serve for two-year renewable terms that can cross changes in Presidential administrations. It meets quarterly, with two times per year on Zoom and two in Washington, D.C.

Each seat is designated to represent a stakeholder in the EV transition, including one seat for OEMs, one for battery manufacturers, and one for for-hire transportation, occupied by Laguna. For-hire includes passenger transportation, rental car companies, buses, transportation management companies (TMCs), rideshare services, limousines, and taxis.

“It’s amazing for a member of the car rental industry to secure a seat,” Laguana said in an interview with ARN. “With for-hire passenger transportation, nobody is buying more EVs than we are. For the industry this represents a tremendous opportunity that our interests are considered when setting policy. What’s at stake is the extent to which we will have a car rental industry.”

The EV Working Group was established by the 2022 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, enacted as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (Public Law 117-58).  It is responsible for advising the Departments of Energy and Transportation on the implementation of the federal electric vehicle research, funding, and grant programs from the legislation. 

“Many people wanted to secure this seat,” Laguana said. “It makes recommendations to the joint office of Energy and Transportation on how we facilitate this transition and make it a successful one. When you think about how important transportation is to the economy, and how many billions we are spending on electric vehicle infrastructure, production, and purchasing of EVs, it’s hard to come up with a bigger moment for transportation within the past 50 years.”

Laguana cited the group’s well-rounded expertise that spans sectors contributing to EV development, such as labor matters, environmental issues, local government, and public utilities. The group will issue reports that help determine how to allocate funds from the Biden Administration’s infrastructure program and set future government policy.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime transition for the country,” Laguana said. “The group is doing the work that will determine how the country will move forward on this effort strategically.”

Most of the work on these federal groups happens outside of formal meetings, Laguana said. The EV group has subcommittees, such as one for EV charging infrastructure that Laguana serves on.

“Right now, we are thinking about chargers and where they are going,” he said. “We are seeing where consumers are likely to go, such as destinations, airports, major hotels, national parks, and the kind of places consumers want to visit. We also think these chargers can serve under-served communities and get broad access to EVs.”

The subcommittee will research what type of chargers can qualify for National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) funds, and the requirements and specs for EV charger hookups.

“It’s more likely that we will see the Tesla hookup standard being widely adopted,” Laguna said. “It’s not helpful to have a many different standards.”

As part of his role, Laguana will report regular updates to ACRA. He emphasized that he is not representing any one company, but the industry overall among other for-hire transportation sectors.

“Any ACRA member will get a lot of consideration,” he said. “I’m willing to listen to anybody on how to move forward. I want to make sure we do as good a job as possible."

Electric Vehicle Working Group Goals

  • A description of barriers and opportunities to scaling up EV adoption throughout the United States
  • Examples of successful public and private models and demonstration projects that encourage EV adoption
  • An analysis of current efforts to overcome barriers for EVs
  • An analysis of estimated costs and benefits of any recommendations of the EVWG
  • Any other topics, as determined by the EVWG described in section 25006 (c)(1) of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.


Background Article: ACRA 2023 D.C. Event

About the author
Martin Romjue

Martin Romjue

Managing Editor of Fleet Group, Charged Fleet Editor, Vehicle Remarketing Editor

Martin Romjue is the managing editor of the Fleet Trucking & Transportation Group, where he is also editor of Charged Fleet and Vehicle Remarketing digital brands. He previously worked as lead editor of Bobit-owned Luxury, Coach & Transportation (LCT) Magazine and from 2008-2020.

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