The American Car Rental Association (ACRA) announced in mid-January that, on behalf of its members and the car rental industry, it had successfully ensured the inclusion of language regarding the availability of fleet purchase loans for rental operators in HR 384, a bill designed to reform the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) and ensure the program’s accountability.

“ACRA was concerned the original language was not sufficient to protect our interests and ensure our inclusion in financial assistance,” said Sean Busking, executive director of ACRA.

Frank Colonna, ACRA board member and owner of Triangle Rent A Car, worked with Bob Barton, ACRA president, and Busking to formulate language that identifying the car rental industry as a noted recipient of financing.

Colonna proposed the amended language to Congressman Brad Miller, Colonna’s representative in North Carolina. Miller was able to have the language included in the “Amendment to HR 384 Offered by Congressman, and Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, Barney Frank.”

That language has since been approved and is included in the bill. As of this printing, the bill has passed the House of Representatives and is now under review in the Senate Finance Committee.

“This is good that as an industry we were able to work together and accomplish such an important goal,” said Colonna. “However, we still have more to do on this project before it is of any benefit to any of us.”

These latest actions follow a proposal late last year led by Avis Budget Group asking Congress to have the Treasury and Fed buy specific types of debt issued by Avis Budget Group, Hertz Global Holdings, Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group and Enterprise. The plan called for the federal government to free up traditional lines of credit accessed by rental car companies to fund their operations. (Enterprise said it will not need to access those funds if a relief plan passes).

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While that proposal covered asset-backed and A-2/P-2 commercial paper financing, it did not include traditional bank loan financing used by non-major rental operators. The specific wording change to HR 384 is a victory that can be attributed specifically to ACRA’s efforts, said Busking.

“ACRA’s mission is to support sensible legislation that benefits all its members,” said Busking. “This legislation, and the subsequent inclusion of the amended language recognizing the car rental industry, proves what we can accomplish when we call upon the strength and unity of industry-wide representation.”

“Through the efforts of the ACRA board of directors, we have been successful in getting our voice heard in having a common issue affecting us all addressed by government,” said Barton.

This is Not a Handout
“ACRA has not asked for a bailout,” said Barton, who is also COO of Franchise Services North America (FSNA), owners of U-Save Car & Truck Rental. “ACRA, on behalf of its members, is simply seeking the government’s assistance to open up the credit markets and allow us to borrow in the same manner our members were able to previously to facilitate fleet purchases.”

“Contact your local representative and urge them to support this bill, as it is one of—if not the most—important issues we are currently facing,” Busking said.

For more information, contact Sean Busking at [email protected] or (918) 810-6231.

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