New partnerships with companies that are developing self-driving car technology have also been formed. Avis Budget Group’s partnership with Alphabet’s (Google) Waymo and Hertz’s partnership with Apple are two examples. This is a trend that car rental companies are getting behind because they understand that autonomous vehicles could eventually replace today’s cars.
At the 2016 Women’s Industry Network Educational Conference, Susan Lombardo, senior vice president of vehicle acquisition for Enterprise Holdings, said, “Many drivers experience new automotive technologies for the first time in rental vehicles…I have no doubt that the U.S. car rental industry will be an early adopter and will be able to help introduce autonomous driving technology to millions of consumers – just as we have done with anti-lock braking, stop-start technology, hybrid electric vehicles and all of the other new technologies.”
These partnerships also present a significant business opportunity. Fortunately for the car rental industry, no one has more experience managing enormous fleets of cars, not to mention the global infrastructure and physical presence.
Chris Brown, executive editor at Auto Rental News, said, “Autonomous vehicles will still need to be managed – fleeted, de-fleeted, maintained and moved – and car rental companies are poised to do that, as they already run the largest fleets in [the] U.S. and even the world.”
During a talk at a Friends of Finance luncheon at The University of Tulsa earlier this year, Tom Kennedy, Hertz’s chief financial officer said, “In the car rental industry, what we do have are great fleet management capabilities that are very difficult to replicate…nobody has that kind of chain from life to grave of managing a car.”
The car rental industry is embracing people’s changing habits and a new operating environment. Car rental companies are responding with intelligent strategies, innovative ideas, and technology investments that can help drive operational efficiency, growth, and profitability. These are the strategic initiatives on which industry executives must focus to remain relevant. To learn more, download our new guide: 2018 State of the Car Rental Industry.