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Use of Car-Sharing Programs Set for 550% Jump

New study predicts 12 mil will use services by 2020.

by on Sep.19, 2013

When they need a car, a growing number of Millennials are turning to carsharing services.

If you want to get a hint about the potential for car-sharing programs consider that Hertz, Avis and other traditional rent-a-car firms have purchased pioneers in the short-term rental market, such as ZipCar, over the last couple years.

And, apparently, such moves will be well rewarded, a new study predicting that the number of members subscribing to car-sharing services will surge by more than 550% before the end of this decade – from the current 2.3 million to more than 12 million.

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Global revenues are expected to grow even more rapidly, forecasts Navigant Research, jumping from an anticipated $1 billion this year to $6.2 billion in 2020.

Car-sharing services offer an alternative to the traditional vehicle rental approach by targeting those who might have need of a vehicle for as little as an hour, rather than those who want one for a day or more.  In most cases, customers access vehicles at unmanned lots or even at reserved, street-side parking spots.


Car Rentals Could Be a Challenge Over Holiday, Especially Out East

Rentals reportedly in short supply due to Hurricane Sandy.

by on Nov.21, 2012

With so many vehicles destroyed by the superstorm, demand for rentals may exceed supply this holiday along the East Coast.

By various estimates, Superstorm Sandy destroyed as many as 200,000 cars when it swept through the Atlantic Coast three weeks back.  The impact could be felt not only by those who’ve lost their wheels but by countless thousands of travelers who will struggle to find a rental vehicle over the holiday weekend.

Despite shifting tens of thousands of cars to the tri-state New York area and other of the hardest-hit regions, rental firms are barely keeping up with demand for local residents who need temporary transportation. It is even more difficult for those who’re dropping in for the holidays.

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“Tight availability is typical of any holiday weekend,” explained Paula Rivera, a spokesperson for Hertz. “For those who haven’t made reservations, the availability is extremely tight at this point in time. So the probability of securing a car for travel over Thanksgiving weekend is slim,” she told the NPR-affiliated Transportation Nation.


Penske Pairs Up With Hertz

Follows Hertz acquisition of Dollar Thrifty.

by on Sep.07, 2012

A force to be reckoned with, Roger Penske expands his presence in the car rental business.

Hertz, the rental car giant, has entered into an alliance with Penske Automotive Group of Bloomfield Hills, which could lead to PAG picking up more Hertz franchises across the U.S.

Hertz chairman and chief executive officer Mark P. Frissora said the Penske partnership fits nicely into Hertz’s vision of being the global leader in mobility solutions.   The rental giant last month announced it would purchase rival Dollar Thrifty for $2.3 billion.

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With more than 25% market share, Hertz is the leading on-airport car rental brand. The company has also been serving the local market and insurance replacement industry for more than 10 years and is a recognized supplier to more than 193 of the 209 largest insurance companies.


Legislation Would Block Renting of Recalled Cars

Enterprise demands loopholes.

by on Aug.06, 2012

Enterprise continues to resist demands it repairs recalled vehicles before renting them.

Democratic lawmakers in both the House and Senate have introduced legislation that would require rental car companies to repair recalled vehicles before putting them back into their fleets.

The issue has become a hot topic when a jury slapped giant daily rental company Enterprise with a $15 million verdict, in 2010, after two young women were killed due to a defect that the firm had not repaired.  Enterprise had repeatedly rented the Chrysler PT Cruiser despite receiving a recall notice.

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“We will not rest until Congress has passed legislation that protects American consumers from these unsafe vehicles, and we urge all the rental car companies to join Hertz in committing to the safety of their customers,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat.

The new Senate legislation – which mirrors a House bill introduced last month – comes as three of the four major rental firm, including Enterprise, Dollar Thrifty and Avis, have dug in their heels and rejected a voluntary repair plan.  Only Hertz has so far agreed to take recalled vehicles out of its fleets until they are repaired.

In May, Enterprise management had indicated it would also stop renting recalled vehicles but has since said the company wants an exemption allowing it to continue to use those vehicles in its fleet if the recall involves minor problems. The firm would prefer to be able to continue rentals while advising customers the vehicles are subject to recall.

There are a wide range of recalls.  Several manufacturers have this year staged callbacks because the wrong tire inflation information was posted on the placards found in the driver’s door jamb. At the other extreme, Ford recently announced a series of recalls for the new 2013 Escape including one advising owners of certain models to park the vehicle until a leaky fuel line can be fixed.

Together, the four firms control about 92% of U.S. rentals.  Enterprise alone, through the Enterprise, National and Alamo brands, accounts for about a third of all airport business in the U.S.

The proposed legislation has won widespread support from both consumer groups and from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The measure does not cover limousines, car services or taxis, but Boxer says that gap can be addressed later.

While the rental companies say the proposed legislation would create problems by forcing them to take cars out of service at times when business might be heavy they also insist they are normally quick to respond to recalls.  Enterprise contends 90% of the affected models in its fleet undergo necessary repairs or inspections within 90 days.

General Motors and Chrysler have advised NHTSA that, on the whole, about 50% of vehicles used by rental companies are in compliance with a recall within one year.

The legislation first introduced into the House last month is called the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2012.  The bill is named after the sisters whose vehicle went out of control, crossed a highway median and struck a tractor trailer in 2004.

“When demand called, we rented out recalled vehicles, it happened, I won’t lie,” the California jury hearing the case was told by Mark Matias, who had served as an Enterprise area manager in San Francisco, near where the accident occurred.

Enterprise initially tried to blame the sisters, arguing 24-year-old Raechel, who was behind the wheel, might have been “suicidal or on drugs.”  The company rejected a $3 million settlement offer that, ironically, would have allowed it to keep the case out of the public eye by sealing all court documents.

GM’s OnStar Partnering with RelayRides to Promote Car Sharing

Want to rent out your car during business hours?

by on Oct.05, 2011

OnStar teams with RelayRides' carsharing service.

Sure, you’ve got a long commute, but the fact is that your car – and most others – sit around most of the day when they could be put to better use.  Or so is the theory behind RelayRides, which takes an offbeat approach to put cars to better use when they’d otherwise be sitting idle.

Teaming up with OnStar, RelayRides – which is backed by money from Google Ventures – provides an alternative to traditional car rental firms.  Someone who might need a car, say, to run a couple errands, could access a vehicle from someone living down the block or working in a nearby office.

The system is designed to make a short-term rental quick and easy — and even to give a user a wide range of vehicle choices.  Owners, meanwhile, could get a chunk of change that could be applied to their monthly car payment — or gas bill.

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As part of an exclusive relationship that will begin in early 2012, the car-sharing service will focus on GM vehicles equipped with OnStar.  That would seem to make sense because unlike many competing telematics systems, a vehicle with OnStar has a built-in data link that doesn’t depend on having the owner’s cellphone nearby.

An OnStar operator thus could unlock the door of a vehicle for an authorized RelayRides user.  Otherwise, someone participating in the car-sharing venture would have to install a special device in the vehicle to allow access.


Feds Launch Probe Into Rental Car Recall Delays

Investigation triggered by evidence some firms regularly delay repairs on defective vehicles.

by on Nov.22, 2010

Rental firm accused of delaying repairs on recalled vehicles if they're in demand.

Federal regulators want to know whether daily rent-a-car companies may be risking the lives of their customers by delaying repairs for known safety problems in order to keep potentially defective vehicles in circulation.

The investigation comes as several rental car firms defend their actions in court.  As first reported, last July, officials with Enterprise, Alamo and National have acknowledged in court delaying safety-related repairs, in one manager’s words, “when demand called.”

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But industry officials are denying such allegations and, if anything, are blaming automakers for failing to properly notify fleet managers of pending recalls.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s new investigation is specifically examining how major rental car companies have handled 29 individual recalls ordered by Detroit’s Big Three automakers.  In all, those recalls involved 3 million vehicles sold to rental companies.


car2go Makes It Official

Can the Smart car-based program transform urban mobility?

by on May.20, 2010

car2go hopes to revolutionize urban mobility, starting with a program in Austin, Texas.

Can a small car like he Smart fortwo make a big change in urban transportation?  That’s what the new Daimler AG venture, car2go, is betting on.

The project, which has been operating in pilot mode for several years, is ready to roll out in full business mode, on Friday, in Austin, Texas.  Company officials say they’re already looking at expansion opportunities in as many as 100 cities in North America and Europe. (See Car Sharing Meets Austin City Limits)

On the surface, car2go could be dismissed as just another way to rent a car – in this case the pint-sized Smart fortwo 2-seater.  But the idea behind the venture, which first went into testing in the German city of Ulm, in 2008, is to both supplement users of mass transit and provide the occasional set of wheels for urban dwellers who might not own a vehicle of their own, company officials explained during a news conference in Austin, on Thursday.

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The Texas capital has served as a test sight for the U.S. market, car2goNA partnering with the city government and signing on a small group of other residents to test the concept.