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Penske takes over Hertz car rental locations in Indiana

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Michigan-based Penske Automotive Group Inc. has acquired 20 Hertz car rental locations around Indiana and will operate them as franchises of New Jersey-based Hertz Corp.

The companies declined to disclose the acquisition price. But Penske, which is led by legendary IndyCar owner Roger Penske, said it intends to add as many as five locations in the next year and boost overall employment at the franchises by 15 to 20 jobs.

“We’re going to grow this business,” Bud Danker, president of Penske car rental operations, said in an interview. “We’re excited about being in Indiana, especially with our heritage there.”

The franchise deal took effect over the weekend. Penske hired 160—or about 96 percent—of Hertz’s Indiana employees.

The deal gives Penske control of Hertz rental operations at three airports—Indianapolis International, Fort Wayne and South Bend. But Danker said Penske is particularly focused on growing the “off-airport” market, with the potential for new or expanded locations in Fort Wayne, Goshen, Kokomo, Bloomington and Richmond.

Perhaps a “half-dozen” locations will be co-located at some of the 58 existing truck-rental locations around Indiana, which are owned by Penske Corp., an affiliate of Penske Automotive, Danker said.

Penske also is purchasing 1,000 new cars to freshen up Hertz’ rental fleet. Danker said it will later transfer those cars to the used-car operations at the two Penske Honda and Chevrolet auto dealerships it operates in Indiana.

While the car-rental locations will still be branded Hertz, and will use the Hertz website for reservations, Penske will add its brand name to employee uniforms, to check-out booths and in other subtle ways.

“You will see some sub-branding of Penske car rental,” Danker said. “We’ve got a strong brand, particularly in Indianapolis.”

Eight of Hertz's 20 locations are in the Indianapolis area. Roger Penske is well known here because his IndyCar team has won the Indianapolis 500 race 15 times, more than any other owner.

The Indiana deal between Penske and Hertz mirrors a similar one the companies made in October, which gave Penske the Hertz franchise rights in Memphis, Tenn.

Penske Automotive Group is a Fortune 500 company with $13.2 billion in revenue and more than 16,000 employees.

Penske shares rose 69 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $30.74 each, in Tuesday morning trading.
 

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