Enterprise Rent-A-Car expects the fleet market to be the primary driver for car sharing growth, following its acquisition of City Car Club.
Enterprise provides its own car sharing service, CarShare, to corporates, with about 150 cars used as an alternative to traditional pool cars. However, the acquisition for an undisclosed sum of City Car Club will underpin a stronger presence from Enterprise in the car sharing market.
City Car Club was founded a decade ago and operates an 850-strong fleet across 17 cities, including more than 330 vehicles in 20 London boroughs. Enterprise has 370 rental locations across the UK. Its expansion into the car sharing sector follows that of Avis Budget, which acquired Zipcar, the world’s largest car share organisation, for £307 million two years ago.
Meanwhile, Europcar bought a majority stake in French start-up car share company Ubeeqo in January and aims to target the business market when it is launched in the UK later this year.
Enterprise vice-president Brian Swallow told Fleet News the expansion of vehicle rental companies into the car share market did not signal the death of the traditional daily rental business model.
“We see car sharing and car hire working hand in hand – hourly and daily rental – as part of a mobility solution. Both consumers and businesses want the option of getting a vehicle on tap, whether those requirements last for an hour, a day, a month or even longer.
“Car sharing is simply another form of rental. We offer it as part of a total mobility service to those businesses that prefer to work with one supplier, which can offer the full range of mobility solutions.”
His comments echo those of Ronald Nelson, chairman and chief executive of the Avis Budget Group, who said at the time of the Zipcar acquisition that he viewed car sharing as complementary to traditional car rental. Zipcar has a fleet of more than 1,500 vehicles in the UK.
Swallow said: “CarShare has been focused on corporates since before the acquisition and we still see the fleet market as a primary driver for growth.
“We’re already working with organisations around the UK to provide car-sharing solutions and joining with City Car Club gives us even more market expertise we can use to offer better service.”
However, he added: “Car sharing is now also becoming an increasingly popular choice for consumers, which is why we’re looking to build a stronger presence in this market.”
City Car Club, which is headquartered in Leeds, has approximately 30,000 members. Vehicles are located in Bath, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Chester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Huddersfield, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield, Southampton and York. It says 2,000 businesses use its vehicles each month, making 5,500 reservations and travelling more than 140,000 miles.
In the short term, the Enterprise CarShare and City Car Club businesses will continue to operate as separate brands, with a view to creating a combined entity in the future. City Car Club uses the same technology as Enterprise CarShare, which will make integration straightforward.
The merged business would make its 1,000 vehicles available across the UK to corporate and private customers. “Some will continue to be based on-site at businesses for ease of access to employees, while those used by members of the public are available in a wide range of locations,” said Swallow.
Promising that the combined business would have “an even stronger position from which to offer exceptional service across the corporate, public sector and consumer channels”, he concluded: “One of the main factors influencing our choice of partner was that City Car Club and Enterprise CarShare both view sustainability and service as key factors in working with customers.”