Who needs to own a car when you can rent one by the hour?

How often do you really need a car? Instead of owning your own ride, what if there were a fleet of cars conveniently stationed nearby that you could rent by the hour when the need arose? Following in the tread print of Zipcar, Hertz has started just such a service in New York City, London, and Paris called Hertz Connect.

The fully-gassed cars are available at a number of pickup points in the city, which members reserve online or by phone for as little as an hour at a time. Reserving by phone will cost you an extra $3.50. Each car is equipped with a hands-free phone hookup to Hertz, through which you can extend rentals on the fly.

Three membership plans are available;

  • A basic package at $50 per year with a $25 application fee (!), for which you'll get 180 free miles a day and rental charge of $10 an hour.
  • Connect 50, a $50 per month plus the same $25 nonsense fee, for the privilege of 180 free miles/day and $9.00 an hour rental.
  • Connect 125, $125 per month, $25, 180 miles per day, $8.50 per hour.

Insurance is included in the cost of the rental.

The terms of rental include some restrictions; no smoking, no pets, and a limit of four active reservations per member.

For those living in a high-density area such as NYC or a large college campus, this seems like an excellent way to save a lot of dough. If it were available in my neighborhood, I would be very tempted to dump one of our cars. On the downside, such a program bodes ill for the struggling auto industry.

Hertz has the budget and infrastructure to take this program national, but it will have to hustle to catch up with Zipcar, which already offers a similar service in 33 locations including a number of campuses, and offers an appealing fleet of fun rides.

Also read: Zipcar, Flexcar merger


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