Mobility revolution needs the skills of daily rental companies
Expertise in managing and moving thousands of vehicles on a daily basis will be vital to the success of vehicle usership models, says senior executive.
Daily rental companies are in pole position to capitalise on the move from vehicle ownership to usership, according to a senior director of Hertz.
Short term hire firm’s expertise in all aspects of fleet management, from maintenance to the logistics of having the right vehicle in the right place at the right time fits perfectly with the zeitgeist for on-demand travel, said Rob Moore, senior vice president and chief technology officer for Hertz.
While TNC firms (Transportation Network Companies, such as Uber and Lyft), operate virtually no vehicles directly, the major daily rental businesses have decades of experience in matching vehicle supply to demand.
“The TNC players are very asset light. They don’t own the fleet, they don’t manage the fleet or maintain the fleet,” said Moore.
With a fleet of about 600,000 cars at any one time, Hertz is steeped in the systems and processes to ensure its fleet is in the right place, fuelled, cleaned and ready to meet customer needs, and this skillset will be just as valuable in a world of autonomous vehicles, said Moore.
“What we have in our ability to manage our fleets is unique to our space,” he said. “Today, in New York, for example, we move cars on and off the island every day, thousands and thousands of them. The only difference when they are autonomous is that they will move themselves. They still have to be positioned properly - you are not going to wait hours for your car to arrive – it will be the same challenge; right car, right place, right time.”
Keep the fleet rolling
Knowing how to keep the fleet rolling, and avoiding vehicles all ending up in one location, is vital, said Moore, who likened the task to the way Disney keeps customers constantly moving through the rides at its theme parks to avoid excessive queues. And this requires more than deploying the nearest car to a customer.
“When managing which car gets to you, it may not be the car that’s closest; that may not be the right car for you. It may be on its maintenance schedule or need cleaning, so we have to keep all those cars rolling. That type of intelligence and that kind of fleet management will make a big play. Even in today’s world those cars are not making money if they’re not rolling,” he said.
As a heavy investor in IT, data analysis and telematics, Hertz finds ways to make incremental changes to its operation on an almost daily basis, said Moore, who added that when tiny changes are scaled across a fleet of several hundred thousand vehicles, the impact can be huge.
From transactional to helpful
It’s a similar situation with the inevitable move to an autonomous vehicle world over the coming years, where the relationship between Hertz staff and customers will become less transactional and more ‘helpful’ said Moore.
He added that the rapid growth of TNC firms is actually presenting significant opportunities for Hertz to supply cars to ride-hailing drivers whose own cars were off the road.
“It’s giving a second life to our vehicles, because they do not need to be a brand new vehicle for ride hailing,” said Moore.
“Smart mobility excites me and rental will be a big part of it.”
Image: car rental counters at the airport of Bangkok, Thailand