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Major Car Rental Firms Act Fast on Toyota RecallsFebruary 4, 2010 By: George Dooley
Enterprise Holdings announced that, through its regional subsidiaries, it has now removed approximately 83 percent of the approximately 35,000 recalled Toyota and Pontiac Vibe vehicles from its North American rental fleet. Included are the Alamo Rent A Car, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental brands. The company said it is confident of meeting consumer demands despite the recall.
The company credits its unique network of more than 5,000 Enterprise Rent-A-Car neighborhood locations - located within 15 miles of 90 percent of the U.S. population - with enabling it to respond quickly and smoothly to the recall.
These vehicles, which were identified for recall and suspension of sales due to potential problems with sticking accelerator pedals, represent about 4 percent of the company's entire North American fleet, Enterprise said.
"We've been able to move so quickly to pull almost 30,000 cars from our fleet because of our coast-to-coast network of neighborhood and airport locations," said Matt Darrah, executive vice president-North AmericanoOperations for Enterprise Holdings, which owns and operates the Alamo, Enterprise and National brands.
"I also have to give tremendous credit to our team," Darrah noted. "Our employees have worked hard to ensure that, in the process of protecting our customers' safety, we've also minimized their inconvenience. The other factor that's worked in our favor is that the affected vehicles represent such a small percentage of our total fleet. That's added to our speed and efficiency in moving vehicles from city to city, or back and forth between airports and nearby neighborhood branches, to minimize delays in getting customers into a replacement vehicle. That same flexibility, combined with new cars coming into our fleet and our plans to keep some existing cars a bit longer than planned, makes us confident that we can continue meeting customer demand."
Enterprise Holdings will continue to remove all affected cars from its fleet. Meanwhile, the company has suspended sales of the affected models and will not sell or put any affected Toyota vehicles into service under the Alamo, Enterprise or National car rental brands until the situation is corrected.
Further, Enterprise Fleet Management, working with Toyota, is continuing to contact its leasing customers who have leased a vehicle subject to the recall and is keeping them informed of the latest developments.
None of the vehicles in the company's car sharing fleet, operated under the WeCar brand, is affected by the manufacturer's safety recall concerning potentially sticking accelerator pedals, Enterprise said.
In a January 27 statement, Hertz said that it will temporarily stop renting vehicles named in Toyota's voluntary recall. Hertz Chairman and CEO Mark P. Frissora said, "We are taking action so there can be no question about the safety of our customers and the cars we rent. We expect these actions will have minimal operational disruptions."
Hertz said it is working closely with Toyota to make necessary repairs as quickly as possible, and that several Toyota models in its rental fleet are not included in the recall.
Hertz is the world's largest general use car rental brand operating from approximately 8,100 locations in 145 countries worldwide. Hertz is the number one airport car rental brand in the U.S. and at 42 major airports in Europe, operating both corporate and licensee locations.
Dow Jones reports that most major rental agencies have expressed confidence that they will meet customer demand after moving to halt the affected vehicles. They note although for some agencies this may mean juggling thousands of non-Toyotas, especially in advance of the travel-heavy Presidents' Day holiday weekend next month.
Like Enterprise and Hertz, Avis moved quickly on the recall issue. Avis Budget Group, advised customers on January 27.
"The safety and peace of mind of our customers are a top priority for Avis Budget Group. In light of the safety concerns being raised about Toyota vehicles, we are taking the precaution of removing all of the approximately 20,000 cars that Toyota has identified for recall from our corporate fleet in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico effective Wednesday, January 27, 2010,” Avis said. “It is important to note that the safety problems that have led to Toyota's recall of certain vehicles are believed to arise out of usage over time. Accordingly, we believe that all of the Toyotas in our fleet are safe, given the regular maintenance and the low mileage of our overall fleet, which we believe is the lowest of any major vehicle rental company in the U.S. We also want to reassure our customers that Toyotas represent only a small percentage of our overall fleet, so we expect to be able to fulfill all projected customer demand and customers can make reservations with complete confidence for any rental occasion."