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The Hertz Corporation (also known as Hertz Rent a Car or simply Hertz) is the largest car rental brand in the world, with approximately 3,500 locations in the United Statesmarker and 7,500 worldwide.

Hertz also maintains a heavy equipment rental division known as the Hertz Equipment Rental Corporation, aka HERC. It is headquartered in Park Ridgemarker, New Jerseymarker, United Statesmarker. HERC has more than 300 branches throughout the United States, Canadamarker, the European Union and Indiamarker.

The company was begun by Walter L. Jacobs in 1918, who started a car rental operation in Chicagomarker with a dozen Model Ts. In 1923, Jacobs sold it to John D. Hertz, president of Yellow Cab and Yellow Truck and Coach Manufacturing Company, who renamed it the "Hertz Drive-Ur-Self System". The company has passed through a number of hands, including General Motors, RCA, and United Airlines. As a public company, Hertz was traded on the NYSEmarker under the symbol HRZ until the purchase of outstanding stock by Ford Motor Company.

From 1994–2005, it was a wholly owned subsidiary of Ford Motor Company. On June 13, 2005, Ford issued a notice that Hertz would be spun off in an initial public offering. On September 13, 2005 it was announced it was to be sold to a private equity group (composed of Clayton Dubilier & Rice, The Carlyle Group and Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity) for $5.6 billion in cash and debt acquisition. The sale was completed on December 22, 2005.

This private equity group took Hertz public on November 16, 2006 and is now available on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol 'HTZ'.

Despite its past affiliation with Ford, the rental fleet of most Hertz locations no longer consists exclusively of Fords and Ford brands such as Mazda, Volvo, Mercury and Lincoln. It is not uncommon to find Hertz rental cars from non-Ford companies such as Toyota, Hyundai, Kia and General Motors.

Hertz Corporation Data Center is located in Warr Acresmarker, a dense suburban city within Oklahoma City, Oklahomamarker.

Collections and Specialty Cars

In 1966, Hertz engaged racing and automotive designer Carroll Shelby to develop an exclusive version of his modified Ford Mustang. One thousand GT350H Mustangs were built and ultimately sold once their rental use had ended, and surviving models have become a rare collector car. In 2006, the 40th anniversary of the original GT350H, Hertz introduced Shelby Mustang GT-H's as part of the Fun Collection at select locations. This was followed in 2007 with a convertible version of the GT-H.

The Fun Collection is targeted at the leisure car rental market, catering to travelers seeking exciting driving experiences. It allows reservation of cars by specific make and model. All vehicles feature Sirius satellite radio. Approximately 9 different models are available from a 12,000 vehicle specialty fleet at approximately 24 major airport locations in the United States. In 2008, Hertz announced the Chevrolet Corvette ZHZ would be the new centerpiece of its Fun Collection.

In the early 2000s, Hertz debuted the Prestige Collection at many rental locations. This collection features cars from Ford's Premier Automotive Group, including specific reservable models from Volvo, Land Rover and Jaguar. Possibly due to market pressures, certain models from Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and several other luxury makes are also being offered in highly competitive rental locations such as LAXmarker.

Hertz launched its Green Collection in September 2006 with environmentally-friendly vehicles including the Toyota Prius, Ford Fusion, Buick LaCrosse, Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata. All feature Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) highway fuel efficiency ratings of 31 highway miles per gallon or better, and most carry the Environmental Protection Agency's SmartWay certification, which indicates lower emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases. The Prius has also earned SmartWay Elite status. In early 2007, Hertz launched its global hybrid rental program in conjunction with a $1 million donation to the National Park Foundation. The launch of the global hybrid program expanded Hertz’ “Green Collection” by adding 1,000 Toyota Prius hybrid vehicles to the company’s US nationwide fleet, a $20 million investment. As with the Fun Collection, the Green Collection allows customers to reserve specific vehicle models.

Hertz Neverlost and Other Technologies

In the late 1990s, the company pioneered in-car satellite based navigation in a portion of its rental fleet with the introduction of "Hertz Neverlost". The system features a color LCD display, voice prompting in several selectable languages, street address lookup, turn-by-turn guidance, and a destination guide based on AAA Tourbooks. Later generation units feature a special events by city, and popular chains database. Geographic information for the entire United States, and the majority of Canada is stored in the Neverlost control unit which is typically mounted under the hatshelf in the trunk area. The Neverlost navigation system and components are standardized throughout the North American rental fleet and the same physical unit is used for several years and moved across multiple rental cars. Neverlost in other parts of the world may differ from the unit found in North America.

Since being introduced, the Neverlost system has undergone two major hardware revisions, and several iterative software revisions. The latest generation Neverlost OTP unit features Online Trip Planning that allows the user to plan, save and upload destinations to a USB flash drive from an Internet equipped personal computer. The destinations are automatically preloaded when the flash drive is plugged in to the Neverlost unit. Later revisions of Neverlost OTP unit also feature street-name pronunciation.

The system was later repackaged and commercialized in a portable consumer unit called the Magellan Roadmate GPS Navigation System by Thales Group. The fact that it is based on the Hertz Neverlost system is frequently touted in the Roadmate marketing literature.

Another significant Hertz-led technology was the development in North America of the low-floor passenger coach. Until the early 21st century, most large Hertz lots were linked to airports they served by small fleets of firm-operated transit buses. Many Hertz locations used the Rapid Transit Series, whose high floor and stairs made loading of baggage difficult and rendered access to wheelchair and ECV-using customers difficult or impossible. A large potential contract from Hertz led Gillig Brothers of Hayward, California, to invest in a radical redesign of the city bus that offered a floor only a foot off of the ground (lower when pneumatically "kneeled") from the front of the bus, between the front wheels, up to the rear axle. The low floor and additional space freed by the redesign, initially titled the "H2000LF" by Hertz, greatly reduced loading and unloading time, increased convenience, and were for a time exclusive to Hertz. The bus was subsequently marketed as the Gillig Low Floor and is widely deployed by US public transportation agencies.

Advertising

A large billboard advertising Hertz was on the roof of the Texas School Book Depositorymarker in Dealey Plazamarker during the assassinationmarker of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. The billboard was later removed.

In 1961, Hertz television commercials featured a special effect showing people easily floating down from the sky into a car, with a cheerful group singing, "Let Hertz put you in the driver's seat" and an announcer stating "Hertz", following by phrases such as "we put you behind the wheel (in the driver's seat)"Norman, Craig & Kummel, was ranked 65 in the Advertising Age list of top 100 campaigns

This prompted an early Saturday Night Live parody of a man screaming as he falls from high altitude, crashing into a car. The announcer states, "Hertz." The man screams, "It sure does!"
Hertz's logo until 2009
In the late 1960s, Hertz came out with a TV ad in which a company official, looking very much like a Nazi officer, shows the viewers the high efficiency of various aspects of Hertz' operations. At the end of the commercial he asks, "Why do we do this? I don't know; I am only following orders." This commercial brought about so much outrage that Hertz had it removed after a very short time.

O.J. Simpson appeared prominently in ads for the company for years in the 1970s and 1980s (many times appearing with golf legend Arnold Palmer; the pair was joined by the early 1990s by actress Jamie Lee Curtis). In one spot from the mid-1970s, which became iconic, Simpson, former football star as he was, leapt over rows of departure lounge seats, running through an airport terminal (wearing a three-piece business suit and carrying a briefcase) trying to get to his Hertz rental car. A woman yelled, "Go O.J. Go!" The tagline of the ad, as spoken by O.J., was "Hertz, the superstar in rent-a-car".

The relationship with Hertz and Simpson ended in late 1992 when reports of domestic abuse surfaced.

In 1993, a new campaign centered on the phrase "Not Exactly" was launched. The initial spot featured two business men (Bill Applebaum, Wayne Federman) forced to rush down an escalator, board a shuttle, and run through the rain to retrieve their non-Hertz rental. The spot was directed by Bob Giraldi.

Subbrands: Simply Wheelz and Advantage

In 2007, Hertz launched subbrand "Simply Wheelz" to address economy-minded and leisure-market customers in Orlando, Florida. The subbrand was colocated within and utilized the fleet and other assets of the parent brand, and channeled reservations and customer-service through a streamlined web front-end (resembling those of low-cost-carrier airlines) to its existing systems. Ambitious expansion plans were announced and the subbrand briefly expanded into other strong leisure markets including Los Angeles and Las Vegas, but was withdrawn with the acquisition of the Advantage Rent a Car brand.

Hertz outbid Enterprise Rent-a-Car acquiring the assets of bankrupt Advantage Rent a Car System including the website address of www.advantage.com in early 2009. The Simply Wheelz subbrand and website were then themselves rebranded as Advantage Rent-a-Car.

References

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