With the industry facing criticism for ongoing safety lapses, rent-a-car company Hertz is calling for government oversight to ensure that recalled cars are fixed before being rented to consumers.
Two senior lawmakers say they will introduce legislation to do just that in the coming weeks.
Though rental firms like Hertz and Enterprise, the largest in the field, are the single biggest purchasers of new cars in the U.S. they are not subject to regulation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which oversees automotive manufacturers. NHTSA can block the manufacture and sale of vehicles experiencing safety defects but it is currently powerless to prevent them from being rented out.
Nonetheless, NHTSA has been investigating the rental industry for more than a year following revelation that rental companies have frequently allowed vehicles subject to safety recalls to remain on rental lots. As TheDetroitBureau.com first reported in July 2010, officials with Enterprise, Alamo and National acknowledged in court they would delay making safety-related repairs, in one manager’s words, “when demand called.”