Hertz on Demand members receive a key fob and it comes with an embedded RFID reader. After receiving a confirmation email and being assigned a vehicle, members can swipe the key fob across an RFID reader placed on the lower left-hand-side of the car’s windshield.
If they have found the assigned vehicle, the authorized user ID is transmitted to the car’s on-board computer and the rental gets activated and the doors unlocked.
The engine also is engaged and members can use they keys inside the vehicle to peel out and get their road trip under way.
When the rental is over, members press a button inside the vehicle to indicate they are finished.
“Exiting, the vehicle is locked by swiping the key fob over the RFID reader,” Hertz on Demand says. “At that time, the vehicle sends all the information related to the user: user, start/end time, duration, and miles driven to the Member Care Center for billing purposes.”
Meanwhile, rival Zipcar hands out Zipcards to members. Zipcar vehicles have RFID readers in the windshield and once the correct Zipcard is held in front of the reader, the car, with the keys inside, unlocks.
When the ride is finished, the renter uses the Zipcard to lock the vehicle, with trip details becoming available online “within a few hours,” Zipcar says.
Hertz on Demand provides a pay-as-you-go membership and offers its fleet for short-term rentals at more than 500 locations in the US, UK, France , Spain and Germany.
Zipcar, which has the larger service in terms of number of vehicles, focuses on urban areas and universities in the US, Canada and the UK.
With Hertz on Demand, the key fob may give way to smartphones for some renters.
Hertz on Demand is in the process of upgrading its mobile apps to enable members to unlock and lock rented vehicles using their smartphones, a spokesperson says.
After using their Zipcards to initialize a reservation, members already can use Zipcar apps to unlock and lock their vehicles.
Also on the tech front, Hertz On Demand is working on outfitting its entire fleet with the car-sharing technology from Eileo “that runs the back-end/operational elements of car-sharing,” the spokesperson says.