Chicago crime has led Enterprise’s car-sharing operation to cancel existing reservations in the area and stop taking new ones, the company says.
Enterprise CarShare has had “a lack of vehicle availability” for the past six weeks, as “a direct effect of significant vandalism, theft and fraud,” the company told its members via email Tuesday.
About 40 percent of Enterprise CarShare’s fleet had been involved in theft or vandalism, a company spokesman said. A Chicago Police Department spokesman could not immediately comment on whether the department was conducting a broad investigation of the incidents.
The Enterprise CarShare email encouraged members to contact traditional Enterprise Rent-A-Car branch offices “for alternate mobility solutions.”
“Enterprise will continue to focus on meeting the transportation needs of Chicagoland, regardless of whether you need a vehicle for an hour, a week or longer,” the email said.
The company is working with rental branches to provide CarShare members with discounts, spokespeople told Blue Sky. The spokesman said they expected to provide members with an update, including information on potential discounts, within the next week or so.
The company has not said if the service will be shut down permanently.
Car-sharing allows for by-the-hour rental of vehicles parked in locations throughout the city. Users find and reserve cars through the web or apps and access them with membership cards or smartphones. Gas and insurance are typically included. Others offering the service in Chicago include Zipcar and General Motors’ Maven.
Zipcar, which entered the local market in 2006 and has about 500 vehicles throughout the city, hasn’t experienced similar vehicle security challenges in Chicago, a spokeswoman said. Zipcar was acquired by Enterprise competitor Avis Budget Group in 2013.
Enterprise CarShare began its life in Chicago as I-Go CarSharing, backed by the local nonprofit Center for Neighborhood Technology.
I-Go was first to bring the modern car-sharing concept to Chicago in 2002, with a mission to provide affordable transportation to everyone regardless of neighborhood or income. St. Louis-based Enterprise Holdings bought I-Go in 2013.
At the time of the sale, I-Go had about 250 cars in its fleet and 15,000 members in 40 neighborhoods. Enterprise did not immediately respond to questions about the current size of its fleet.
Enterprise CarShare also currently operates in Manhattan, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Operations are still active in those cities, but Chicago members are not able to use cars in other markets.
Former I-Go chief executive Sharon Feigon, who’s now executive director of the Shared Use Mobility Center, said that under her watch, I-Go occasionally encountered theft and cases in which members used the gas cards to fuel vehicles outside its fleet, but tech was put in place to avert losses.
“Periodically, things would happen,” she said. “But 98 percent of the people who used I-Go were careful and looked out for the cars. … We never pulled out of anywhere because of problems like that.”
Feigon said the car-sharing industry has been impacted by the proliferation of ride-hailing, with more people opting to use Lyft or Uber for the short trips they might have used hourly rental services for in the past.
Source: Chicago Tribune