Enterprise Rent-A-Car Parent Company Buys IGO Car Sharing

By Chuck Sudo in News on May 28, 2013 6:20PM

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There’s some huge news on the local transportation front that could affect area car-sharing. Car rental giant Enterprise Holdings, which operates Enterprise, Alamo and National Rent-A-Car, has acquired IGO, the popular nonprofit local car-sharing service founded 11 years ago by the Center of Neighborhood Technology, which now has 15,000 members (including a few of us on the Chicagoist staff) and cars in 200 locations across 40 neighborhoods in Chicago.

In a press release announcing the deal, Enterprise CarShare executive vice president Ryan Johnson said, "We have great respect for what IGO has accomplished not only in Chicago but in the car-sharing arena overall. And we are excited to leverage our local Chicagoland operations to make the IGO program even stronger. Our partnership marks a great opportunity to reinforce car-sharing best practices with the world's largest local car-rental and car-sharing network."

This isn’t Enterprise’s first car sharing program acquisition. They acquired Philly CarShare in 2011 and Mint Cars On-Demand, a car sharing program with over 8,000 users in Boston and New York, last year, and folded them into the Enterprise CarShare banner. The IGO acquisition gives Enterprise another foothold in a major transportation hub in what is turning into a spirited battle for the short term car rental business of drivers looking for alternatives to owning automobiles in urban areas.

Avis Rent-A-Car acquired Zipcar, the nation’s largest car-sharing service, in January. IGO CEO Sharon Feigon told Crain’s Chicago Business after that deal was announced, "I think the rental car companies don't distinguish that much between what they do and car-sharing," Ms. Feigon said. "It's just a self-service form of rental cars for them."

So what changed between January and today? Enterprise must have answered some of Feigon’s questions about continuing IGO’s focus on sustainability and reducing traffic congestion through car-sharing. Feigon said in the statement the purchase “validates our success in building a robust car-sharing market through the design of innovative alternative transportation solutions that encourage people to consider both their quality of life, as well as fiscal savings through car-sharing, walking, biking and use of public transportation.” According to the press release, Enterprise has a history of taking its time with car-sharing service acquisitions to ensure they’re good fits for the company while maintaining the core values of the former companies.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Feigon and her team will work with Enterprise CarShare to ensure a smooth transition. All of IGO’s staff have been offered jobs with Enterprise.