DETROIT -- Penske Corp. is trying its hand in car-sharing, despite the recent exodus from the peer-to-peer business model by several large auto companies.
Penske's car-sharing service, Penske Dash, is launching in Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Va., this week, the company said Tuesday.
Penske Dash is a joint venture by Penske Corp. and Penske Transportation Solutions, the company's transport arm. Penske Dash car-sharing services are provided through the company's partnerships with car-sharing fleet software platform Ridecell and German automaker Volkswagen.
Penske Automotive Group CEO Roger Penske told Automotive News in January that the company was considering a car-sharing pilot as a "micro-leasing" business.
Penske was one of several top industry partners who were part of a $28.6 million investment round for Ridecell in 2018, led by Cox Automotive.
"Ridecell today is the backbone, early backbone for BMW. They're also for AAA. We're also an investor in Ridecell," Penske said. "When you think about '19 and beyond, as we see technology and we see ride-sharing and subscriptions, we think this could be a potential business for us."
The company did not disclose to Automotive News the initial investment for this week's Penske Dash launch.
Penske Dash members will have access to Volkswagen Jetta SE vehicles that can be rented for any period of time through the services' app. Current rates are 45 cents per minute, $15 per hour, $40 for 3 hours or $70 for 6 hours. One-day rental costs $85.
The vehicles can be picked up and parked at any unrestricted parking spot in the two cities. Penske Dash also has reserved spots at certain garages in D.C.
"We believe Washington, D.C., and Arlington are ideal markets to launch Penske Dash due to the commitment of each municipality to provide flexible mobility choices, and the local residents' familiarity with the benefits of car-sharing," Paul DeLong, leader of Penske Dash local operations, said in a statement.
DeLong previously served as CEO of Car2Go North America, the short-term rental service rebranded as Share Now, which recently announced plans to pull its vehicles from five major North American cities by year end.
Michael Montri, COO of Penske Dash, told Automotive News in a statement that mobility as a service and alternative transportation models are commonplace as the industry navigates "rapid change."
"Our entry into any market will be methodical as we grow in partnership with local communities, pursuing customer satisfaction and repeat business as primary metrics rather than number of users or vehicles," Montri said. "Additionally, both the A-to-B and rent-by-minute models provide added flexibility for those who may not wish to return their rental to the same starting point, or return, by a specific time."
Penske's move follows a trend of auto companies such as Car2Go that are re-evaluating their alternative vehicle ownership models, including short-term rental and subscription programs.
Aside from Car2Go, the short-term vehicle rental service of General Motors' Maven mobility brand exited eight U.S. cities in May. Other automakers -- such as Ford Motor Co. recently bowing out of Canvas, a vehicle subscription platform it acquired in 2016 -- have concluded these services aren't financially sustainable.