If you’ve ever needed to rent a car, chances are you chose Hertz or at least considered them. The company is one of largest rental operations in the entire world. By sales, they’re definitely the biggest in America. But they’ve long been a fixture in the UK as well.
History and Background
The story of Hertz can be traced all the way back to 1918. Unlike many companies with that kind of history, Hertz has always been in the car rental business. It was Walter Jacobs who is credited as the man who would plant the seed that eventually became the Hertz company.
In 1918, he recognized the need for a car rental service in Chicago. So, with a handful of Model T Ford cars, he began operations. By 1923, Jacobs was successful enough that people were willing to buy his business. That’s where John D. Hertz—for whom the company is named—got his start. He owned the Coach and Yellow Truck Manufacturing company and bought Jacobs’ business, renaming it, “Hertz Drive-Ur-Self System.”
Hertz would later sell a controlling share of the Yellow Truck and Coach company in 1925—and thus the subsidiary he bought from Hertz—to General Motors. By 1943, the conglomerate would buy up the rest of it.
General Motors would only have the business for a decade, though. By then, Hertz saw the opportunity to expand things. So he sold The Omnibus Corporation, a company he owned, and used the money to buy back Hertz. He renamed it “The Hertz Corporation” and found a home for it on the NY Stock Exchange within a year.
The Hertz Corporation
From there, Hertz began expanding like he had planned. Within a year, his corporation purchased Metropolitan Distributors, a New York-based company that leased trucks.
Expansion and growth continued until 1967, when RCA bought the company. Despite being a subsidiary which is wholly owned, though, the company remained as a separate entity unto itself. Then in 1985, the company joined up with the UAL Corporation.
Over the years, more companies would either buy or invest in Hertz. But it wasn’t until 2005, when it was owned by Ford, that it sold shares to private equity companies, The Carlyle Group, Clayton, Dubliner and Rice and Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity. The move netted them 15 billion dollars in both debt acquisition and cash. The sale was made final in late December of 2005 and by November of the next year, they went public.
Looking to expand their U.K. market, the company announced on January 11th, 2010 that they had purchased British Car Auctions, a popular used car dealer, for an undisclosed sum.
With such a long history to its name, Hertz has had plenty of time to become more than just a rental car company serving the United Kingdom. Their subsidiaries and divisions now consist of:
Hertz Rental Car: Their main branch that deals with rental cars.
Hertz Equipment Rental: Offering everything from heavy equipment for construction projects to smaller tools for sale or rent.
Hertz Local Edition: A service focused on local rentals in case of insurance replacements.
Hertz Car Sales: Selling rental cars from the Hertz fleet that are only a year old.
Hertz Truck and Van Rental: A service aimed at those who are moving or otherwise need a large vehicle to accomplish deliveries.
As you can see, the company has really diversified what it has to offer the United Kingdom, though all of its services are still related to the automobile or rental industry in some way. The result is a company that is better able to service a wider market when they’re in need of temporary solutions.
Plus, aside from the U.S. and U.K., Hertz can also be found in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Mexico and number of other countries throughout the world. So just about anywhere you travel, you can look into taking a Hertz rental car to your final destination.
Speaking of which, it’s worth pointing out the number of different types of cars you can look forward to renting from Hertz. One especially cool option is the modified Ford Mustang available exclusively through the rental car company. It was built through a collaboration with Hertz and Carroll Shelby. 1,000 of these specialty GT350H Mustangs were designed and constructed, though most of them have since been sold.
In 2006, Hertz launched their Green Collection of environmentally friendly cars. These included the Buick LaCrosse, Ford Fusion, Toyota Prius, Hyndai Sonata and Toyota Camry. They will soon also be offering the completely electric Nissan Leaf.
Obviously, they also offer conventional sedans and vans too, to the majority of their market. But they are always looking to branch out.
So the next time you need a rental car, just remember that Hertz is an option in the U.K. They have close to a century of experience to their name and show no signs of slowing down.