ST. LOUIS, MO--(Marketwire - Dec 4, 2012) - A variety of vehicles, where and when they need them, and at affordable rates -- that's the bottom-line for car-sharing customers, according to independent research conducted by Northeastern University's Fleura Bardhi and Suffolk University's Giana M. Eckhardt: "Access Based Consumption: The Case for Car Sharing."
According to ScienceDaily.com, the researchers discovered that their "study challenges the romanticized view of access understood as a form of collaborative consumption and altruistically motivated." Moreover, the study confirmed that affordability and convenience are the primary factors driving consumers' participation in car-sharing programs. It also revealed that clean, well-maintained vehicles -- and access to new and different models -- are critical issues for car-sharing customers.
None of this surprises Ryan Johnson, assistant vice president for Enterprise Holdings, the largest car rental company in the world. "This timely research provides a reality check for the car-sharing segment by highlighting the growing demand for up-to-date vehicles and first-rate customer service," explained Johnson, who is overseeing the introduction of the Enterprise brand into retail car sharing for the first time.
The study also underscores the strength of Enterprise's track record as a key provider of affordable, accessible transportation alternatives right where customers live and work. "It's not a coincidence that we are starting in Boston and New York City, two of the most highly competitive car-sharing markets in the United States," Johnson said. "Under the Enterprise CarShare name, we not only are building on our company's legacy and beacon brand, but also strategically leveraging our award-winning customer service, consumer-friendly pricing and the largest and most diverse fleet in the industry."
Enterprise Car-Share Rollout
Enterprise Holdings -- which owns and operates the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands -- began piloting hourly car rentals in select urban markets in 2005. The company next started offering local automated car sharing, under the WeCar name, as a natural extension of its business rental program. Since then, the company has been using WeCar to deliver car-sharing technology's speed, efficiency and economy nationwide to businesses, universities and government offices looking to enhance their fleet management operations and sustainability initiatives.
In mid-2011, Enterprise Holdings announced that it was studying the economics of the retail car-sharing market, in an effort to determine whether the business model could be financially sustainable over the long term. Later that same year, Enterprise Holdings entered a major retail car-sharing market for the first time by acquiring PhillyCarShare in Philadelphia, and then, in 2012, it acquired Mint Cars On-Demand in Boston and New York City.
The company already has begun transitioning the new Enterprise CarShare name in Canada and the U.K., as well as in Boston and New York, with other U.S. cities to follow next year. All of Enterprise Holdings' retail, university, corporate, government and municipal car-sharing programs will be fully aligned under the Enterprise CarShare name by mid-2013.
Matt Darrah, executive vice president of North American operations for Enterprise Holdings, believes that the company's leadership role in the car rental industry provides more than just vital economies of scale in the car-sharing segment. It also taps into an unmatched neighborhood network of more than 5,000 Enterprise Rent-A-Car local branch offices, more than twice as many as its nearest U.S. competitor. "Car sharing clearly is a natural extension of the local car rental service that Enterprise Rent-A-Car pioneered," Darrah said. "That's why we are able to enhance and resize car-sharing fleets so quickly, based on consumer demand and community needs."
For example, in the New York metro area, Enterprise -- with approximately 150 neighborhood car rental locations -- swapped out 90 percent of the existing car-sharing vehicles after completing its acquisition, plus increased its fleet overall by 50 percent, including 11 new makes and models. In the Boston area, Enterprise -- with more than 20 neighborhood car rental locations -- likewise is increasing and upgrading its local fleet and adding several new locations, including the Government Center and Prudential Center.
"The Enterprise brand represents a significant link in the automotive value chain," Darrah concluded, "whether consumers want to rent a car at our brick-and-mortar offices, or they prefer to access a car-sharing vehicle via mobile technology."
To become a member, consumers simply need to sign up on the new Enterprise CarShare.com reservation site. Additional information about updates and promotions also is available on the new Enterprise CarShare Facebook page.