Hertz faces a tough battle for market supremacy in the UK as five or six major rental firms jostle for fleet business and to secure vehicles from manufacturers at competitive prices.
New innovations that enable the company to stand out from the pack are essential and Hertz has them in abundance.
Helping to drive business over the past couple of years has been Connect, a pay-as-you-go programme which offers fleets access to cars for short-term use at designated parking bays in major cities.
The company anticipates a surge in demand for Connect over the next 12-18 months, raising sales in the corporate sector.
Also high on the agenda for 2011 is the environment as Hertz commits to driving down CO2 emissions further with global partnerships with Nissan, Mitsubishi and Renault for the supply of electric vehicles.
Topping its achievements was winning the Best Short-term Rental Company award at this year’s Fleet News Awards.
Fleet News: How did you feel winning the award?
Neil Cunningham: I was delighted. We previously won the category around eight years ago and it felt great to be winning again. The award is a great recognition from the industry that highlights the successes and achievements we have had.
FN: Hertz spent 2010 driving towards greener cars. How has the fleet industry reacted to this change?
NC: There is a big interest from corporate accounts for lower emitting cars. We are being increasing asked about CO2 as fleets are mindful of benefit-in-kind tax.
We get a sense that corporate companies are far more wary of emissions then they used to be. In the past they were more concerned about engine size and speed, now it’s all about the emissions.
We make sure we are in a position to react to companies when their needs change.
FN: Connect by Hertz was extended in 2010 into corporate offices. What are your aspirations for the service during 2011?
NC: Connect by Hertz offers a new, flexible approach for fleets. This has been a big project for us and we think this will give us a new platform to expand upon.
It enables multiple keyless entries which would be ideal for pool fleets.
The traditional pool model causes problems for companies, especially when it comes to the logging of the cars and tracing of drivers. Now they can find out exactly who is driving a vehicle and where they drove it.
Every driver will be given a card which is allocated to a particular vehicle. All drivers need to do is book the car, then it will know they are coming.
When you need multiple drivers of a car and you want to control where the car is going and what drivers are doing, this model has endless benefits for customers.
We expect this new wave of rental technology to really take off. I reckon anyone who has got a pool fleet will see at least a 25% saving on pool cars just by using it.
FN: You have recently announced electric vehicle partnerships with Nissan, Mitsubishi and Renault. Are there any more in the pipeline?
NC: We are talking to all manufacturers that are in the electric vehicle market, but some are more reluctant than others. I think they believe the rental market has a poor handover process and that the customer is not educated to drive an electric vehicle, which does not apply to the Hertz model.
Connect by Hertz is a much more regulated experience with a hands-free care centre connection in the car. The car is opened and, if a problem is detected, the driver can press a button and automatically be connected to the care centre.
Manufacturers are concerned about the available training for drivers in the rental market. With Connect by Hertz we have a robust database and we can talk to customers once they are in the car.
What manufacturers should bear in mind is electric cars can be plugged into any domestic socket which alleviates some of the risk of the battery going flat.