Big Wake-Up Call for Car Sharing and Urban Mobility

Enterprise Sustainability Blog: Independent Research Challenges "Romanticized View of Collaborative Consumption"

Marketwired

ST. LOUIS, MO--(Marketwire - Dec 11, 2012) - A recent independent study, as reported in ScienceDaily.com, confirms affordability and convenience are the primary factors for customers' participation in car-sharing programs. The study -- "Access Based Consumption: The Case for Car Sharing" by Northeastern University's Fleura Bardhi and Suffolk University's Giana M. Eckhardt -- reveals that clean, well-maintained vehicles, as well as access to new and different models, are critical issues for car-sharing customers. 

On the heels of Enterprise CarShare's entrance into the Boston and New York markets, Enterprise's head of corporate sustainability, Lee Broughton, has posted a blog highlighting this research on the company's DrivingFutures.com website. Based on the study and Enterprise's 55-year track record in local car rental, Broughton concludes that a pragmatic approach to car-sharing technology should be an industry "best practice" -- and encourages urban planners, elected officials and other visionary leaders to pay close attention to the realities of the competitive marketplace:

Big Wake-Up Call for Car Sharing

Snopes.com, otherwise known as "the Urban Legends Reference Pages," is well known for validating or debunking Internet rumors, misguided emails and other pop-culture stories. And it appears to be a resource one should keep in mind when reading about car sharing.

Don't get me wrong. Automated car-sharing technology has made highly accessible and affordable local car rental even more convenient, bringing transportation options even closer to where people live and work round the clock. But, in my opinion, car sharing is much more practical -- and therefore, much more powerful and sustainable -- than any urban myth.

That's precisely why I was so heartened to read about Northeastern University's Fleura Bardhi and Suffolk University's Giana M. Eckhardt, two curious researchers who got together to independently test the car-sharing hype and media frenzy. Indeed, as reported in ScienceDaily.com, their study challenges the "romanticized view of access understood as a form of collaborative consumption and altruistically motivated."

Those in the car-sharing business already know about the industry's legal and financial challenges. But this study -- "Access Based Consumption: The Case for Car Sharing" -- confirms that affordability and convenience actually are the primary factors driving consumers' participation in car-sharing programs. It also reveals that clean, well-maintained vehicles, as well as access to new and different models, are critical issues for car-sharing customers. 

None of this was exactly news here at Enterprise. We firmly believe these landmark findings should serve as a reality check -- a big wake-up call -- for anyone who believes in car-sharing technology and transportation sustainability overall.

Today's car-sharing customers, just like car-rental customers, are demanding up-to-date vehicles and first-rate customer service. Moreover, the best way, the only way, to make car-sharing service scalable is to ensure that it is flexible, responsive and competitive in the marketplace.

To that end, we operate Enterprise CarShare as an extension of our unique Enterprise Rent-A-Car neighborhood network -- which includes almost 1 million vehicles and more than 5,500 offices located within 15 miles of 90 percent of the U.S. population. In fact, last month we introduced the Enterprise brand into retail car sharing for the first time, starting in Boston and New York City.

So why did we begin with two of the most competitive car-sharing markets in the country? Because, more than 15 years ago, Enterprise Rent-A-Car officially recognized the strength and energy of local Virtual Car® rental service, especially for those who rely on mass transit during the week or who simply cannot afford to purchase or maintain a vehicle on their own.

The most recent car-sharing research underscores -- for urban planners, elected officials and other visionary leaders -- why transportation needs to not only be environmentally, but also operationally and financially, sustainable in the communities we all serve. In addition, the research reinforces Enterprise's public and long-term commitment to urban mobility, which was addressed by our Chairman and CEO at the 2012 Corporate EcoForum annual meeting. In his keynote speech last summer, Andy Taylor noted that hourly car sharing has a role to play in the urban mobility equation, stressing that, "at Enterprise, we already have the scale and structure to implement car sharing in virtually every urban market," and that this is just one more way our company is committed to offering customers alternatives that both meet their needs and that makes good business sense.

About Enterprise Holdings
Enterprise Holdings and its affiliate Enterprise Fleet Management together offer a total transportation solution. Combined, these businesses -- which include extensive car rental and car-sharing services, commercial truck rental, corporate fleet management and retail car sales -- accounted for $15.4 billion in revenue and operated 1.3 million vehicles throughout the world in fiscal 2012. Enterprise Holdings, through its regional subsidiaries, operates the largest fleet of vehicles in the world through a global network of more than 8,200 airport and neighborhood locations under the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands. Its affiliate, Enterprise Fleet Management, provides full-service fleet management to companies and organizations with small- to medium-sized fleets. Other transportation services marketed under the Enterprise brand name include Enterprise CarShare, Enterprise Rideshare, Enterprise Car Sales and Enterprise Commercial Trucks. Enterprise Holdings is the largest car rental company in the world as measured by revenue, fleet and employees. Enterprise Holdings' annual revenues also place it near the top of the travel industry, exceeding all other rental car companies, and most airlines, cruise lines, hotels, tour operators and online travel agencies.

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Laura Bryant
Enterprise Holdings
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