Automotive > Infotainment & Telematics Blog

High Noon for Enterprise, GM

by Roger Lanctot | Sep 25, 2017

Enterprise Holdings launched an advertising campaign at the beginning of 2017 positioning the company as a seller, renter and sharer of motor vehicles of all shapes and sizes. I saw the campaign, featuring Kristen Bell, for the first time this weekend while binge-watching USANetwork’s “Sinner.” 

The odd thing about happening upon this ad campaign nine months after it first aired is the fact that Enterprise’s Enterprise CarShare is actually in retreat, exiting Boston, Washington, Chicago, Denver, Salt Lake City and San Francisco. Meanwhile I am watching Ms. Bell cheerily touting the growing range of Enterprise offerings - even as it's availability is shrinking. (Worth noting – when I returned to watching the last episodes of “Sinner” the Enterprise ads were gone.) - Kristen Bell "If Only" TV Ad Campaign for Enterprise -

The market exits represent a fraction of Enterprise's market coverage spanning three countries:

United States

  • Albuquerque Atlanta Corvallis Eugene Greenville
  • Hoboken Honolulu Houston Jersey City Louisville
  • New Brunswick New York Newberg Oberlin Oxford
  • Philadelphia St. Louis St. Petersburg Tampa


  • Mississauga Toronto

United Kingdom

  • Bath Birmingham Bradford Brighton Bristol
  • Cardiff Chester Doncaster Durham Edinburgh
  • Falkirk Glasgow Halifax Huddersfield & Dewsbury
  • Inverness Isle of Wight Leeds Liverpool London
  • Manchester Newcastle Nottingham Peterborough Sheffield
  • Southampton Stockport Surrey Wakefield Winchester
  • York

The departures from half a dozen U.S. cities, while not devastating, is yet another indication of the uncertain playing field for car sharing services. The exit from Chicago was attributed, by Enterprise, to excessive theft, fraud and vandalism impacting Enterprise CarShare vehicles. The company said demand in Washington, DC, was insufficient for Enterprise.

Enterprise has made multiple acquisitions of car sharing and vanpooling companies over the past decade. The company is targeting a wide range of applications which together have propelled Enterprise RideShare to recognition as the fourth largest transit agency based on passenger miles driven: 2.4B, according to the Public Transportation Factbook published in February 2017. - Enterprise Fact Sheet - Enterprise Holdings

In spite of the departure of Enterprise from multiple cities, competing services persist in those markets.  Competing ride hailing services such as Uber and Lyft have also negatively impacted car sharing demand.

The struggle over car sharing is an existential one for Enterprise, a privately held company with one of, if not, the largest vehicle fleets in the world. Enterprise is privately held, but public statements regarding its performance suggest the company’s growth has continued unabated by competing services and fueled by its innovative approach to adopting new transportation options.

While ride hailing services such as Uber and Lyft have had a negative impact on both car rentals and vehicle sales – the magnitude of that impact remains unclear. General Motor’s entry into the market with Maven, however, represents something of a direct assault on Enterprise akin to the Uber/Lyft drag on demand.

In fact, one could argue that Enterprise is suffering a three-pronged assault from GM in the form of:

  • The launch of Maven into the loaner car business for GM dealers
  • The launch of Maven as a competitive alternative to Enterprise RideShare and CarShare services
  • The ongoing reduction of vehicle sales to rental car companies including Enterprise expected to continue into 2018

More than 10 years ago GM gave up on the rental car business, selling its National rental car division to investors. At the time, the sale was described by GM as an effort by the company to focus on its core business of selling cars. It was also a tacit acknowledgement that GM was terrible at renting cars. There was little appreciation of or acumen for the logistics of renting cars, cleaning and prepping cars, and optimizing the timing of reselling used rental cars.

Enterprise understands all of those logistics and is now facing off with GM in dealerships, in cities and in apartment complexes and on college campuses – as Maven expands to more cities and an increasing variety of use cases. Enterprise and GM are not alone, of course, with Avis, Hertz, Daimler (Car2Go) and BMW (ReachNow) among a growing cadre of car sharing startups taking on the challenge of ad hoc transportation.

In view of Car2Go’s exits from San Diego and Minneapolis earlier this year and Enterprise CarShare’s recent departures, it appears clear that though the barriers to market entry may be low for car sharing, the hurdles to achieving profitability are significant. It is somewhat ironic that GM has made such a point of eschewing rental car sales – in order to preserve used vehicle resale values – when Maven is expanding the universe and the definition of fleet sales for GM.

In essence, GM is not only taking on Enterprise, it is also taking on the fleet industry. This is all good and clever for GM considering that the natural home for electric vehicles is fleet applications. GM missed this opportunity with the extended range Volt, but appears to be better positioned now for fleet sales of the Bolt – including within Maven.

In a curious twist on this car sharing contest Fortune Magazine has recognized General Motors CEO Mary Barra as the most powerful woman for the third straight year. Pulling in at 17th on the same list is Pam Nicholson, president and CEO of Enterprise Holdings. (For good measure, Tricia Griffith, as president and CEO of Progressive, is 15th.) Powerful women are shaping the future of the transportation. Let the best organization win.

Previous Post: GM's Barra Misses the EV Boat | Next Post: Car Makers Spinning in a Red Ocean

Let's talk

Now you know a little about us, get in touch and tell us what your business problem is.
Inquiry / Message:

please enter captcha from left