Hertz Car Rental – Company History

logo of hertz car rental supplier

Hertz, the world’s leading vehicle renting organization, operates from approximately 8,100 locations in 147 countries worldwide.

Hertz is the largest general use car rental brand in the world, and the number one airport car rental brand in the U.S. Hertz has locations at 69 major airports in Europe, operating both corporate and licensee locations in cities and airports in North America, Europe, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand.  In addition, the Company has licensee locations in cities and airports in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.  Product and service initiatives such as Hertz #1 Club Gold, NeverLost customized, onboard navigation systems, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, and unique cars and SUVs offered through the company’s Prestige, Fun and Green Collections, set Hertz apart from the competition.

Today, Hertz’s Worldwide Reservations Centers handle approximately 40 million phone calls and deliver approximately 30 million reservations annually.

Wholly-owned subsidiaries of Hertz include:

Hertz Equipment Rental Corporation (HERC), one of the world’s largest equipment rental businesses, with approximately 375 branches in the United States, Canada, France and Spain.  HERC offers daily, weekly, monthly and long-term rentals of tools and supplies, as well as new and used equipment for sale, to customers ranging from major industrial companies to local contractors and consumers.

Hertz Claim Management Corporation (HCM), a Third Party Liability Claims Administrator providing services to major corporations, self insured entities and the insurance marketplace.

Hertz Local Edition® (HLE), which specializes in insurance replacement and local car rentals for those customers whose personal cars are being repaired or are otherwise out of service.

In September of 1918, the pioneer of auto renting, Walter L. Jacobs, at the age of 22, opened a car-rental operation in Chicago. Starting with a dozen Model T Fords, which he repaired and repainted himself, Jacobs expanded his operation to the point where, within five years, the business generated annual revenues of about $1 million.

In 1923, Jacobs sold his car-rental concern to John Hertz, President of Yellow Cab and Yellow Truck and Coach Manufacturing Company. Jacobs continued as Hertz’ top operating and administrative executive.

This rental business, called Hertz Drive-Ur-Self System, was acquired in 1926 by General Motors Corporation when it bought Yellow Truck from John Hertz.

In 1932, Hertz opened the first rent-a-car facility at Chicago’s Midway Airport. Later that same year, to further facilitate the world’s adjustment to travel by air, Hertz introduced the first Fly/Drive car rental program.

In 1953, Omnibus Corporation, which divested itself of its bus interests and concentrated solely on car and truck renting and leasing, bought the Hertz properties from GMC.   A year later, a new name was taken — The Hertz Corporation — and it was listed for the first time on the New York Stock Exchange. Jacobs became Hertz’ first President and served in that post until his retirement in 1960. He died in 1985 at the age of 88.

In 1954, the new corporation bought Metropolitan Distributors, a pioneer in New York truck leasing dating back to the World War I and the largest concern of its kind in any one city. In the process, the head of Metropolitan Leon C. Greenbaum, became Vice Chairman of the Hertz Board of Directors; he later became Chairman, and in 1960, Chief Executive Officer.

In 1967, The Hertz Corporation became a wholly owned subsidiary of RCA Corporation and operated as a separate entity, with its own management and Board of Directors.

In 1970, Hertz established its Worldwide Reservations Center in the heartland, Oklahoma City, and a year later Hertz’ Data Center was also opened in Oklahoma City. Hertz went on-line, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, all over the world.

In 1984, Hertz first developed and introduced Computerized Driving Directions (CDD) and became the first car rental company to offer this service. CDD was made available at more than 100 airports and downtown locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. The directions were available at customer rental locations through easy-to-use, self-service, touch-screen terminals. Hertz offered the directions in six languages: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.

In 1985, Hertz joined UAL, Inc. On December 30, 1987, Hertz was sold to Park Ridge Corporation, a company formed by Ford Motor Company and certain members of Hertz senior management for the purpose of purchasing Hertz. In 1988, Volvo North America Corporation joined Ford and Hertz management as an investor in Park Ridge Corporation.

Hertz Instant Return, introduced in 1987, further streamlined the return side of the car rental transaction. At the car return lot, the Hertz agent meets the returning customer with the Instant Return hand-held computer. Today, Hertz has more than 100 locations offering this service around the world.

In 1989, in the U.S., Hertz redefined the car rental business with its #1 Club Gold® Service, which became an international symbol for “fast service.” This premium, expedited rental service which is available in more than 800 locations today, provides car rental customers with the ultimate in speed and quality. With #1 Club Gold, customers have no unnecessary paperwork at the time of rental and no long lines.

In 1991, Hertz #1 Club Gold service was exported to Canada, to Europe in 1992 and Asia Pacific in 1993.

That same year, Park Ridge Corporation was merged into The Hertz Corporation. In 1994, Ford purchased the outstanding shares of Hertz and Hertz’ became an independent, wholly owned subsidiary of Ford.

That same year Hertz opened its Financial Center, which joined its Worldwide Reservations and Data Centers in Oklahoma City.

In 1995, Hertz introduced its NeverLost® on-board navigation system in the U.S..  The user friendly route-guidance system provides turn-by-turn driving directions to virtually any destination within a geographic area by means of an in-car video screen, with computer-generated voice prompts, mounted in the front of the car’s interior between driver and passenger seats.

In 1997, Hertz launched its new website, hertz.com. The site featured facts and figures on Hertz’ fleet, including a visual vehicle guide, corporate information and details on Hertz’ services, promotions and partnerships. The interactive portion of the site offers rate quotes as well as booking, confirmation and cancellation capabilities for customers and travel agents.

On April 25, 1997, Hertz became a publicly traded company, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, under the symbol “HRZ.”

In October 1997, Dublin Ireland became home to Hertz Europe’s Service Center. The Center is Hertz Europe’s centralized reservations center handling calls from France, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland and the U.K..

In 1998, Hertz and Magellan Corporation announced the formation of an exclusive joint venture to oversee the expansion and operation of Hertz’ NeverLost navigation system. Under the joint venture 40,000 “next generation” units have been deployed in the U.S. and Canada. This joint venture made Hertz the leader in this cutting-edge global positioning technology.

In 1999, Hertz and Toyota formed a car rental partnership in Japan, making car rental service available to Hertz customers at 1,100 locations in that country.

In May 2000, Hertz opened its second U.S. reservations center in Saraland, Alabama, a municipality of Mobile County.

In July 2000, Hertz introduced a new, three tiered program for its top level #1 Club Gold members with the incorporation of #1 Club Gold® Five Star and #1 Club Gold® Presidents’ CircleSM levels.

On March 9, 2001, Hertz became a wholly owned subsidiary of Ford when Ford reacquired the outstanding 18.5% of Hertz’ stock.

In June 2001, Hertz launched another new level of premium car rental service with the introduction of the Hertz Prestige Collection. Offering vehicles from Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Audi, Infiniti, Cadillac, Hummer, and Volvo, Hertz Prestige Collection combines luxury vehicles with Hertz’ exclusive customer services.

In 2002, NeverLost was exported to Europe and, in 2003 into Australia.

In March 2002, Hertz became the first global car rental company to operate in China operating in several locations, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

In December 2002, Hertz introduced SIRIUS Satellite Radio into its U.S. fleet.  Available in approximately 20,000 vehicles, SIRIUS radio receives 65 channels of commercial-free music and 55 channels of news, sports and entertainment nationwide.

New in 2004 was another industry first for Hertz—the ability to reserve specific car brands and models. This feature allows Hertz’ #1 Club and #1 Club Gold members to reserve vehicles based on make and model, an option never before available from any car rental company.

In December, 2005 Hertz was acquired by three leading private equity investment companies:  Clayton, Dubilier & Rice; The Carlyle Group and Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity.

Hertz introduced the Hertz Fun Collection® in January 2006 with vehicles tailor-made for travelers seeking exciting driving experiences featuring a selection of convertibles, coupes/roadsters and SUVs.  In addition, all Fun Collection vehicles feature SIRIUS Satellite Radio and all cars can be reserved by brand and model. The centerpiece of the Fun collection is the Shelby GT-H, a special, limited run of performance-modified Ford Mustang GTs, which are available for rent at Fun Collection locations and other select airport locations in the U.S.  The 2006 Shelby GT-H coupe was replaced, in  2007, with the Shelby GT-H convertible.

In 2006 the company began offering customers in the Houston and New York metropolitan areas PlatePassTM, an electronic toll payment system that allows renters to bypass congestion at cash toll lanes and use the high-speed electronic toll collection lanes. Over the next year PlatePassTM becomes available to renters along the Northeast corridor, including Boston, Atlantic City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC, and in Florida.

In the spring of 2007, Hertz launched “Hertz Hourly Rentals” in New York City and, later that year, in Boston. Numerous vehicle models are available for hourly rental ranging from compact to midsize sedans, midsize SUV’s and Green Collection vehicles. Hertz Hourly rentals does not have an application fee and there are no fees for canceling or changing a reservation. As with all Hertz rentals, Hertz Hourly Rentals also include unlimited mileage and 24-hour Emergency Roadside Assistance and extra products, such as child seats and PlatePass, are available.

The company also introduced its Green Collection in 2006 – a collection of fuel-efficient, environmentally-friendly cars, including the Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, Buick LaCrosse and Hyundai Sonata. The Green Collection features an average Environmental Protection Agency highway fuel efficiency rating of 31 miles per gallon.  Additionally, most carry the EPA’s SmartWay certification, which indicates lower emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases.

In June 2007, Hertz expanded the Green Collection with a planned $68 million investment in 3,400 reservable Toyota Prius hybrid vehicles.  The Green Collection and the introduction of hybrid vehicles complement the thousands of EPA SmartWay certified cars currently in the Company’s car rental fleet.

In August 2007, Hertz introduced Simply Wheelz by Hertz in Orlando, a new company under the Hertz brand that puts travelers in the driver’s seat with faster, easier and more affordable access to today’s most popular rental cars.  With low, competitive rates, Simply Wheelz offers an easy-to-use website for reservations (www.SimplyWheelz.com) and an advanced self-service rental machine to rent and return vehicles. In November 2007 Hertz launched Simply Wheelz in Alicante and Malaga, Spain.

Hertz also introduced Nick on the Go in 2007. Nick on the Go is a fully portable, pre-loaded, touch-screen media player for vacationing families. The Nick-branded units are now available exclusively from Hertz.

In the summer of 2008 Hertz rolled out the Corvette ZHZ in the Company’s iconic yellow with an exclusive center exterior black stripe, as the Company’s specialty vehicle. Hertz added 500 ZHZ models to its airport locations in 24 major metropolitan cities across 14 states and Washington, D.C. at Hertz airport locations in major cities including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.

Hertz launched Connect by Hertz, a pay-as-you-go car membership club, in December of 2008 in New York City, Paris and London.

This information has been retrieved from www.hertz.com.au