Enterprise Rent-A-Car is a car rental company headquartered in Clayton, Missouri, United States in Greater St. Louis. In addition to car rental, Enterprise also oversees commercial fleet management, used car sales, and commercial truck rental operations.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car was established in St. Louis, Missouri in 1957 by Jack C. Taylor. Originally known as "Executive Leasing Company," in 1969, Taylor renamed the company "Enterprise" after the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, on which he served during World War II. In 2009, Enterprise became a subsidiary of Enterprise Holdings, Inc., following the company's 2007 acquisition of Vanguard Automotive Group, the parent company of National Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car. The resulting company was 21st on the 2008 Forbes list of "Largest Private Companies in America."
Enterprise Rent-A-Car is the largest rental car company in the United States, and has more than 5,400 "home city" locations, and 419 airport locations.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car's primary focus is the local rental car market, specializing in car rentals to consumers who need a replacement car as the result of an accident, mechanical repair, theft, or who require a vehicle for a special occasion such as a short business or leisure trip. In the late 1990s, Enterprise Rent-A-Car also began expanding its operations to include the airport market, and now serves airports in the United States, Canada, the UK, Spain, Germany and Ireland. The company's initial entry into Europe came in 1994.
By 2005, Enterprise Rent-A-Car's customer service has been recognized seven times by J.D. Power and Associates as highest in customer satisfaction for rental car companies at or near airports. The company was named ninth on Business Week's top 25 companies customer service list in 2007.
In 2006, Business Week listed Enterprise among the top ten places to begin a career. Although the company's pay for management trainees was among the lowest on the list (at an average $34,000), "those who catch on" quickly get a chance to run a branch office with the responsibility to generate a profit. There are certain requirements and qualifications to become promoted to an Assistant Manager, and many of these qualifications may depend on the employee's sales. According to BusinessWeek's list of "Best Places to Launch a Career," Enterprise was in the top 15. Within five years, a successful manager may take positions at headquarters or become an area manager responsible for multiple branches.
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Fleet management controversy
During model years 2006-2008, 66,000 of the Chevrolet Impalas the company ordered were purchased without side-curtain airbags, saving the company $11.5 million ($175 per vehicle), even though the airbags were standard in retail models. The practice, which the company notes does not "violate any federal mandate", came to national attention when cars being retired from their rental fleet were sold with claims that side-curtain air bags were included. About 5,000 Chevrolet Cobalts and Buick LaCrosses were also purchased with the side air bags omitted. Enterprise admitted that it inaccurately advertised and sold 745 Chevrolet Impalas--model years 2006 through 2008--that were identified online as having side air bags, when in fact they did not. A company spokesman said that it would inform customers who had bought the cars, and offer to buy them back from the customers. According to Safety Research and Strategies, a safety research firm that regularly works with the automotive industry, it is a highly unusual practice to delete safety features. "I've never seen a standard safety feature removed from a vehicle. I've been doing this work for 17 years and, until now, had yet to see this happen," said Sean Kane of Safety Research & Strategies.
In 2008, Enterprise piloted its first on-campus carsharing program at Washington University in St. Louis. The program, called WeCar, was introduced at the University of South Florida in July 2009. As of September 2012, WeCar has 100 carsharing programs in more than 30 American states and Canada, and the service offers almost 100 electric cars and plug-in hybrids, including the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt.
By September 2013, WeCar was re-branded as Enterprise CarShare.
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