May 25, 2012
Enterprise Holdings Inc., one of the nation’s largest rental-car companies, said Wednesday it will stop renting unrepaired recalled vehicles.
Earlier this month, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) sent letters to the four leading rental-car companies and asked them to commit to protecting consumers. She noted Hertz has already adopted the policy.
Boxer’s letters urged the other companies—Enterprise, Avis and Dollar/Thrifty—to follow suit, setting a 30-day deadline. If they don’t agree, she said, “I will announce at that time which companies have agreed to make this pledge and which companies have instead chosen to continue putting their customers’ lives at risk.”
Enterprise Chairman and CEO Andy Taylor—who heads the St. Louis-based company that owns car rental firms Enterprise, Alamo and National—said in a letter to Boxer the company will not rent unrepaired vehicles.
He said Enterprise, which has one-third of all airport business in the United States and Canada through its three major brands, will work for federal legislation to make that policy mandatory. “We are happy to comply with the pledge set forth in our letter,” Taylor told Boxer in a letter obtained by the Detroit News.
He said the company had at times allowed unrepaired vehicles to be used when automakers recommended an interim measure. “In the spirit of compromise, while we are actively working together toward federal legislation governing these issues, we will not use any interim measure,” he wrote, asking for a meeting with Boxer, automaker advocacy groups and others.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland told Congress in March he wants the power to require used-car dealers or rental companies to fix recalled vehicles before they are sold or rented.
In July, Boxer and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y) introduced legislation to prohibit car-rental companies from renting or selling vehicles that are under recall. The legislation was introduced after two sisters from Santa Cruz, CA, were killed in 2004, when a recalled car they had rented from Enterprise caught fire and crashed into a truck.
Taylor noted that in the hundreds of millions of rentals since that, no similar crash has occurred. “We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again,” he said. The company has said “when manufacturers recommend that vehicle owners park or ground their vehicles, Enterprise promptly does so.”
Rental-car companies generally have better repair rates than consumers. General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC told the NHTSA that 30 days after a recall, 10-30% of vehicles sold to rental-car companies had been repaired. By 90 days, it had improved to about 30%, and within a year it was 50% or higher.
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