Almost exactly six months after exiting bankruptcy, The Hertz Corp. is in the process of making changes executives believe will make it more competitive in the marketplace and help it return to the top of the rental car industry.
The changes include a big push into electric vehicles with an investment in both inventory from Tesla and the infrastructure to sustain it alongside partnerships with Uber and Carvana. Tressie Rose, vice president of global communications for the company, says Hertz is “equally focused on innovating, growing and reimagining the customer experience.”
Meanwhile, the Lee County-based rental car giant remains committed to Estero, where it moved its corporate headquarters in 2013, coming from New Jersey. The move included $4 million in Lee County incentives and another $14.35 million in state incentives, all based on new job commitments. Rose answered questions about the future of the company in the region and other issues via email via email in late December. Edited excerpts:
A few months after emerging from bankruptcy, what are the biggest challenges the company faces heading into 2022 and what’s the plan to deal with those challenges?
This is an exciting time for Hertz and we’re looking forward to 2022. We’re focused on creating the new Hertz and our vision to become an essential component of the modern mobility ecosystem. This includes leading in electrification, shared mobility and a digital-first customer experience. In the near term, we’re focused on five key priorities — excellence in executing the fundamentals, a customer-first mentality, innovating relentlessly, leading in the adoption of electric vehicles and investing in our future.
We’re moving aggressively and quickly with transformative initiatives with Tesla and Uber that we believe give Hertz an important first mover advantage in the field of sustainable mobility and the future of electric and autonomous vehicles. We’re also excited about our partnership with Carvana that provides a tech-enabled and scalable channel through the lifecycle of our fleet.
How is the search for a permanent CEO going and can you give us an idea of when the company hopes to have someone in place?
We were fortunate to have (former president and CEO of Ford Motor Co.) Mark Fields join our board in June, and then take the interim CEO role in October to help us lead the new Hertz. He will remain at the helm until a permanent CEO is announced.
The electric vehicle program launched in November. How has it been received by customers and what are the growth plans?
We’re excited about our investment to offer the largest EV rental fleet in North America and one of the largest in the world. We’re actively building out our charging infrastructure and integrating the Tesla Model 3s deliveries into our fleet to support our Uber partnership and the first wave our national rollout that will continue to expand to new markets next year. Customer feedback on the Tesla rental experience has been positive. Customers say it’s fun to drive and appreciate the guidance from our employees and the various digital resources we provide to help them operate and familiarize themselves with the vehicle.
As for the agreement with Carvana to dispose of the fleet. Did the company completely eliminate the usage of auto auctions? How much does the company expect selling directly to the public, rather than to dealers, will add in revenue?
Our national partnership with Carvana helps us use their online transaction technology and logistics network to expand our vehicle disposition channels. We’ll continue to use auto auctions, direct-to-dealer-programs and our retail network of Hertz Car Sales locations. Importantly, Carvana’s technology and logistics network gives us a more efficient direct-to-consumer sales channel and reduce wholesale disposition. The partnership also gives Carvana access to more vehicles.
Is the company committed to staying in Estero long term?
We’re proud to have our roots in Southwest Florida. We’re actively hiring at our Estero campus with 80 open positions and developing and nurturing community relationships and partnerships.