General Motors is piloting a program that places Chevrolet Malibu sedans in certain Enterprise rental fleets in specific markets, said Ed Peper, GM's vice president of fleet and commercial sales.
GM started placing Malibu sedans in certain airport rental fleets operated by Enterprise Rent-A-Car in December, Peper said.
He would not specify which travel destinations got the cars but said they were markets that are popular with buyers of mid-sized sedans.
The Malibu, redesigned for 2013, has gotten off to a sluggish start. It faces stiff competition from other recently redesigned mid-sized cars such as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion and Nissan Altima.
Enterprise Holdings, which processes about 1 million rental transactions a week in North America, placed quick response codes on all its rental vehicles last year.
Quick response codes are the square, ink blot-like symbols that have displaced traditional bar codes for tracking goods. They also offer additional marketing potential.
When scanned with a smartphone, the codes connect consumers with location-targeted Web sites that give information such as restaurant reviews, gas station locations and special offers from the rental companies.
The codes also take renters to the Web site of a vehicle's manufacturer. Quick response codes can be customized further to feature targeted Web pages chosen by the automaker.
The quick response code on a rental Malibu, for example, provides a link to the Chevrolet Web site that gives such information as dealership locations and vehicle sticker price.
GM's Peper said Enterprise gathers information about its vehicles, but he would not comment about how it is used. He also said it will be six months or so before there will be enough data to measure the success of the Malibu program.
Kurt Kohler, Enterprise Holdings' senior vice president of fleet, said registration data studies indicate that consumers who rent vehicles from his company -- typically for up to two weeks -- are twice as likely as the average household to buy a new vehicle within the next six months.
"Manufacturers are working with us because we're an excellent petri dish for marketing," an Enterprise spokeswoman said.