Car rental companies have bounced back in the last year by becoming smarter about how they reach customers and invest in technology.
If you can't beat 'em, then join 'em -- or at least, from Hertz's perspective, partner with Uber and Lyft to attract a new revenue stream. Hertz, Avis Budget, Enterprise and others can't sit on their butts and they are scurrying to adapt.
Companies like Avis Budget and Hertz are looking for leadership from the same people that helped return U.S. airlines to profitability, as ride sharing services drive prices down in the traditional car rental ecosystem.
Hertz knows it needs to get more involved in ride-sharing to keep itself relevant but isn't yet sure what that solution is. It doesn't see its current Lyft partnership as strategic, but it was still willing to test the ride-sharing waters.
The substitution effect is real, and car rental companies for the first time are beginning to look like transitory businesses.
If by "excess capacity" he means "Uber" then, yes, we are in agreement.
Hertz's investment in on-demand valet-parking service Luxe should be seen in the context of Accorhotels recently acquiring Onefinestay. Car rental companies and hotels are both feeling pressure from the sharing economy and they will be making more such investments and acquisitions as these startup mature.
Weakening business travel demand, and the impact of ridesharing on the leisure market, is leading to lower rates and decreased revenue for car rental companies.
Rental car companies saw improvements in revenue and fleet sizes during 2015 and probably feel optimistic about the U.S. economy's continued recovery and increased American travel projected for this year. But they should hold off on celebrating until they demonstrate how they'll make renting cars easier and more mobile friendly in a world where Uber is a frequent alternative to rentals.
Hertz is slowing improving from the mess it was, but its constant inward focus on its problems put it in a poor position to deal with external threats. Like Uber.