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Hertz orders 100,000 Teslas in car-rental industry shake-up

Erik Schatzker, Bloomberg News on

Published in Automotive News

In 2020, General Motors Co. was Hertz’s biggest car and truck supplier, followed by Nissan Motor Co. and Ford Motor Co.

Tom Brady

Teslas, with zero tailpipe emissions, will appeal to rental customers who want a green option or those eager to try out an battery-powered vehicle. Hertz said it hired Tom Brady, the seven-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, to star in ads showcasing the new Teslas. It also created a dedicated EV website offering free charging through the end of January.

Under Fields, who was CEO of Ford for almost three years until May 2017, the company is looking to EVs as part of a commitment to clean energy. Teslas also are less expensive to maintain and refuel as vehicles with internal combustion engines, and they typically don’t lose as much value in the resale market.

Initially, the charging network Hertz is building at its own locations will be for customers only, Fields said.

Along with the Tesla rollout, Hertz, the biggest U.S. car-rental company after Enterprise Holdings Inc., is embarking on a broader revamp of its business around mobility and digitization. One component of that will be expedited rental bookings on the Hertz app.

 

Wild Journey

Electrification is the latest turn in Hertz’s wild journey through the Covid-19 pandemic. When demand for rental cars collapsed in early 2020, the company, whose brands also include Dollar, Thrifty and Firefly, was forced to file for bankruptcy and began liquidating its fleet.

Now, 17 months later, Estero, Florida-based Hertz is thriving thanks to a sharp rebound in travel and the global shortage of new cars. Day traders have embraced it as a meme stock.

As of June 30, Hertz had $1.8 billion in cash and its debt-to-equity ratio, a key measure of financial health, had improved to 2.4 from almost 10 at the end of 2019, according to an Oct. 15 regulatory filing.

Knighthead, a distressed-debt hedge fund, and Certares, a private equity firm specializing in travel, won the bankruptcy auction for Hertz in May with a $6 billion bid. It already looks like a bargain: As of Oct. 22, the company had a market value of $11.6 billion in over-the-counter trading.

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