Enterprise Holdings said Dec. 4 that its new Enterprise CarShare brand — that was announced officially in May 2012 — is now rolling out in select markets. The company said it has begun transitioning the new Enterprise CarShare name in Canada and the U.K., as well as in Boston and New York, with other U.S. cities to follow next year.

Enterprise Holdings — which owns and operates the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands — began piloting hourly car rentals in 2005 and started offering automated car sharing under the WeCar name. Since then, the company has been using WeCar to deliver car sharing to businesses, universities and government offices.

In mid-2011, Enterprise Holdings announced it was studying the economics of the retail car sharing market in an effort to determine whether the business model could be financially sustainable over the long term. Later that same year, Enterprise Holdings entered a major retail car sharing market for the first time by acquiring PhillyCarShare in Philadelphia, and then, in 2012, it acquired Mint Cars On-Demand in Boston and New York City.

All of Enterprise Holdings’ retail, university, corporate, government and municipal car sharing programs will be fully aligned under the Enterprise CarShare name by mid-2013.

‘A Natural Extension’ for Enterprise Rent-A-Car

Matt Darrah, executive VP of North American operations for Enterprise Holdings, believes the company’s leadership role in the car rental industry provides more than just vital economies of scale in the car sharing segment but also taps into an neighborhood network of more than 5,000 Enterprise Rent-A-Car local branch offices.

“Car sharing clearly is a natural extension of the local car rental service that Enterprise Rent-A-Car pioneered,” Darrah said. “That’s why we are able to enhance and resize car sharing fleets so quickly, based on consumer demand and community needs.”

For example, in the New York metro area, Enterprise — with approximately 150 neighborhood car rental locations — swapped out 90% of the existing car sharing vehicles after completing its acquisition, plus increased its fleet overall by 50%, including 11 new makes and models. In the Boston area, Enterprise — with more than 20 neighborhood car rental locations — likewise is increasing and upgrading its local fleet and adding several new locations, including the Government Center and Prudential Center.

“The Enterprise brand represents a significant link in the automotive value chain, whether consumers want to rent a car at our brick-and-mortar offices, or they prefer to access a car sharing vehicle via mobile technology,” Darrah said.

‘The Case for Car Sharing’

In time with the announcement from Enterprise CarShare, an independent research study conducted by Northeastern University’s Fleura Bardhi and Suffolk University’s Giana M. Eckhardt titled, “Access Based Consumption: The Case for Car Sharing,” finds that the most important factors for consumers using car sharing is vehicle variety, availability, location and rates.

Enterprise noted that in the study, researchers found that affordability and convenience are the primary factors driving consumers’ participation in car sharing programs. It also revealed that clean, well-maintained vehicles — and access to new and different models — are critical issues for car sharing customers.

“This timely research provides a reality check for the car sharing segment by highlighting the growing demand for up-to-date vehicles and first-rate customer service,” explained Ryan Johnson, assistant VP for Enterprise Holdings, who is overseeing the introduction of the Enterprise brand into retail car sharing for the first time.

To become a member of Enterprise CarShare, consumers need to sign up on the new www.EnterpriseCarShare.com reservation site. Additional information about updates and promotions is also available on the new Enterprise CarShare Facebook page

Related news: Enterprise Holdings Releases 2012 Fiscal Report, Sustainability Update