Car rental customers try before they buy, according to a new study commissioned by Enterprise Holdings. Conducted by Polk, the study found that customers who rent a car from Enterprise Holdings’ brands – Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Alamo Rent A Car and National Car Rental – are 55 percent more likely than the average consumer to purchase a new vehicle within six months of their rental.

Polk analysis revealed that 1.2 million new cars (out of 11.4 million retail sales) were purchased by consumers within 180 days of renting from an Enterprise Holdings brand. Therefore, Enterprise, National and Alamo customers purchased 1 out of 10 new vehicles that were sold last year.

According to the study, the highest purchase rates were among Enterprise Rent-A-Car replacement renters − customers who rent from neighborhood locations because their cars are in for body work or mechanical repairs. These replacement renters are twice as likely to purchase a new car within six months of their rental.

“This research confirms that, for many consumers, renting a car is truly an extended test drive,” said Mark Pauze, senior product marketing manager for Polk. “The rental experiences provided by Enterprise, Alamo and National are highly influential in the purchasing decisions of potential car buyers. And these test drives don’t just influence how soon people buy; they often steer them toward a different vehicle than what’s already in their garage.”

Polk’s study covered 23 million individual renters over a 12-month period.

“This analysis bears out what we have known for some time – car rental is an effective way for consumers to experience a vehicle before making a big purchase decision,” said Kurt Kohler, senior vice president, fleet, Enterprise Holdings. “Nowadays our customers experience rental vehicles − many of which are newly redesigned by the manufacturer − with higher trim levels and more enhanced technology, giving our customers a very positive test drive.”