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Nissan, Enterprise Team Up on New College Carsharing Program

Japanese maker hopes to turn renters into buyers.

by on Aug.11, 2015

Nissan will partner with Enterprise in a bid to reach Millennials through carsharing.

Nissan is teaming up with Enterprise, the largest U.S. car rental service, in a new carsharing service that, it hopes, will eventually transform renters into shoppers.

Enterprise CarShare will target 90 college campuses across the country and, at a price of $5 an hour, could provide an alternative to fast-growing ride services like Uber and Lyft. Nissan will supply up to 25 vehicles on some campuses, 300 all told.

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“The Enterprise CarShare program offers a convenient way for college students, faculty and staff to enjoy an extended test drive of a wide range of Nissan vehicles and to experience ‘Innovation that excites’ firsthand,” said Nissan U.S. sales chief Fred Diaz in a statement.

Nissan is the latest in a string of auto manufacturers to join in with carsharing programs, both in the U.S. and abroad. Several makers have specifically focused on offering battery-electric vehicles, others, are using conventional vehicles. Ford Motor Co., for example, launched a carsharing program in June in partnership with Zipcar that will target six U.S. cities, as well as London. Ford previously had tested its own campus program.

“Customers, particularly in urban areas want access versus ownership.,” said CEO Mark Fields in June.

(Could car ownership vanish entirely? Some cities would like to see that happen. Click Here for the story.)

The carsharing program will eventually be offered on 90 college campuses around the U.S.

A recent study released by AlixPartners reported that 4.9 million people now have memberships in carsharing programs around the world, a figure it expects to grow to 26 million by 2020. Such programs are proving especially popular both on college campuses and in urban areas, reflecting the increasing return of Millennials to city centers.

There have been numerous studies suggesting that members of Gen-Y are more likely to delay both getting a license and buying a car – but other reports indicate they show more interest as they age and begin to raise families.

That, many industry experts believe, provides a company like Nissan the opportunity to reach out to potential buyers before they are actually in the market. A good experience can influence future buying decisions. An Enterprise study found that nearly one in three Millennials decided to shop for a car after having a good rental experience.

(Use of carsharing programs could jump 550%. Click Here for more.)

Automakers have long partnered with rental firms, Ford even owned and operated several over the years. That has provided an outlet for excess production, as well as a way to give renters a chance to try out one of their products. The concern is that selling to rental fleets is often a money-losing proposition. Some car brands have been cutting back in recent years while others, such as Honda, all but forego rental business entirely.

The hope for Nissan, among other carmakers, is that smaller carsharing programs will be less expensive to participate in while still reaching out to large numbers of future car buyers.

(Toyota might use radical 3-wheeler in carsharing program. Click Here for the story.)

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