Can a rental car company really move society toward sustainable transport? Hertz on Demand, a car sharing service from the eponymous rental agency, believes they have devised a way to more appropriately share cars. Currently there are a wealth of these types of services. Occasional Car, eGo Car Share, and ZipCar are some of the companies just to name a few; not to mention ride sharing options like ZimRide and Carpooling.com.
Hertz on Demand (HOD) offers rentals at more than 500 locations worldwide, giving “renters the freedom of car ownership, without the economic, environmental and logistical challenges that come with owning a car.” According to Hertz, each HOD vehicle removes 14 cars from the road. In order to distinguish themselves from the competition, they are offering free sign up and no monthly costs. Many competitors charge a $5 monthly membership fee. Hertz’s hourly and daily rates vary and are available to members only. As a warning, it took a week from the time I “applied” until I was “accepted” as a member.
In addition, Hertz is offering a promotion for those who use another service: “mail us your membership card from any US car share competitor and we’ll give you $75 in driving credits to try Hertz On Demand!” To find other differences between HOD and competitors, check out their comparison site. (Note, this may depend on where you live).
Hertz cites the following benefits of their service (and car sharing in general):
- Less traffic congestion
- Reduced parking space demand
- Decreased oil and gas consumption
- Fewer driving emissions
- Increased non-vehicle travel between car trips (walking, cycling and public transport)
Last year, a large rooftop array of solar panels came online at Hertz’s Denver Airport facility. This is just one of the steps Hertz has taken to reduce its environmental impact. The economic benefit is also key, as the costs of maintaining a car can be stifling. By getting rid of ownership, insurance, maintenance, and fuel costs, economic prosperity is one step closer. With more people forsaking car ownership, this collaborative consumption may be here to stay. Whether Hertz has the most effective business model remains to be seen.