This year rental car chain Hertz will expand its landgrab of the hourly rental market by equipping its existing fleet of vehicles with technology that enables them to be rented by the hour, day or week -- on the spot.
Customers who sign up for a membership can use electronically coded membership cards to unlock the vehicles and select their rate option, such as by the hour or by the day—without having to visit a company office.
By the middle of 2013, Hertz plans to make tens of thousands of its 375,000 vehicles in the US available for reserving on an hourly basis, says Paula Rivera, company spokesperson.
The technology is being co-branded with Shazam, the mobile app for recognizing tunes.
In late summer, Hertz will partner with Lowe's home improvement stores nationwide to have Hertz 24/7 vehicles on their parking lots available for rental.
By end of 2013, members in Hertz's loyalty program who have Gold status will be able to use 24/7 service seamlessly.
In autumn 2013, Hertz's by-the-hour product, Hertz on Demand (which was originally called Connect by Hertz), will be promoted as "24/7" in a US advertising campaign.
The move will more directly put Hertz into competition with Zipcar, which was recently acquired by Avis at a half-billion-dollar price tag, an hourly rental service run by Enterprise, and Daimler Chrysler's upstart Car2go.
As of today, Hertz has 1,600 vehicles across more than 800 locations. Membership is required to receive an electronic key card to activate vehicles, and 230,000 have signed up to date. There is no membership fee, and fuel costs are only complimentary for the first 20 miles driven per day. A typical rate in $8 an hour for a compact-size vehicle.
The news was revealed at Hertz's investor day this morning.
These pay-as-you-go services are targeted at local residents, though out-of-town visitors who have memberships in one country in the largest programs, Zipcar and Hertz On Demand (now called, 24/7), can book a vehicle while visiting a foreign city.