Self-driving vehicle technology could one day give new meaning to Enterprise Rent-A-Car's "We'll Pick You Up" tag line.
Rental-car companies could send driverless vehicles to consumers who no longer would need to stop by a rental office, an industry consultant says.
It could be as simple as someone picking up a smartphone and choosing a vehicle to pick him or her up, whether it's from Enterprise, Hertz, Avis or another agency.
Enterprise officials think the company, which has more than 5,500 offices within 15 miles of 90 percent of the U.S. population, is set up well for a future with autonomous vehicles.
Enterprise, founded in 1957, has long embraced an urban strategy.
There was a time when rental cars were available only at airports, but Enterprise helped redefine the rental market by offering local rentals, says Lee Broughton, head of sustainability at Enterprise Holdings, the parent of Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
Now autonomous cars present possibilities that could again redefine the industry.
"It takes away any obstacles that are there where you require at least one human being to make the time to pick a customer up," Broughton says.
Rental-car companies generated revenue of nearly $24 billion in the United States in 2012, according to Auto Rental News. Enterprise says about half of that revenue came from airport business and half from neighborhood locations, with Enterprise controlling 75 percent of the neighborhood market.