Three large companies control an estimated 96 percent of the U.S. rental car market, but none of them specialize in luxury automobiles. That’s where Sixt Rent a Car comes in. When Sixt was founded in Germany in 1912, two of the first three cars on the lot were made by Mercedes-Benz, and more than a century later, the family business is staying true to its first-class roots. Sixt, which arrived in the states in 2011, recently added 500 state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz Metris Vans to its fleet. Today, Sixt operates 220,000 vehicles in more than 4,000 locations across 105 countries – and has become the single most profitable rental car company in the world. Here, Sixt’s Executive Vice President, Evan Wexler, and Project Manager, Gina Oakes, talk about what it takes to keep up with the high standards customers have come to associate with the brand.
Fast Company: Sixt is one of the top five largest rental car companies in the world. What do people love about Sixt?
Evan Wexler: Over 50% of our fleet is composed of luxury vehicles; none of our competitors come close to that. Our employees also offer a very high level of customer service. Our locations are designed to have more of a boutique atmosphere, right down to the chic employee uniforms. When people rent with us, they're truly receiving a first-rate experience from beginning to end.
Fast Company: What prompted you to start looking for new, higher-end Vans?
Gina Oakes: We’ve always wanted to expand our luxury strategy into the Van category, which was previously only covered by non-luxury brands. Because we are strongest in tourist locations – where people are often traveling in groups – our Van fleet is one of our most popular categories. It was crucial for us to offer a phenomenal luxury Van option.
Fast Company: What about the Metris Vans in particular made them stand out against other luxury Vans?
Evan Wexler: The Mercedes-Benz brand is synonymous with luxury. When we have to choose one car to picture in our advertisements, we lead with the Mercedes-Benz. The Metris Van is an exciting new product, and our customers like to try things that are innovative and different. They can go to any rental car company and get a nice, average vehicle, but we’re going to be the first rental car company to offer the Mercedes-Benz Metris Van.
Fast Company: How have your customers responded to the Vans?
Evan Wexler: Customers who are accustomed to renting the classic Minivan from rental companies have been surprised and delighted to see a Commercial Van with more space. The Metris Van offers the comfort of a larger van, while still being small and nimble enough to seamlessly navigate traffic and fit in garages and parking spaces. The feedback we’ve gotten most often from our customers is that they want to drive the Metris Van again the next time they rent. The Mercedes-Benz Metris Van has been a home-run.
Fast Company: The Metris is designed with versatility in mind and offers endless possibilities for customization—including exterior and interior racks, creative seating, and even revamped navigation systems. Do you have plans to upfit the Metris Vans to better suit your customers?
Evan Wexler: With the Metris Passenger Vans, we’re interested in the possibility of adding some of the optional safety features like Active Parking Assist, Blind Spot Assist, and Collision Prevention Assist to take the driving experience to the next level. Thirty of our Metris Vans are Cargo models, and we will be renting those out for light moves/relocations. Although we’re going to wait until we have more customer feedback on this, we could definitely imagine making them even better by installing bins or shelving units so customers can stow and transport luggage or boxes in innovative ways. With help from the experts at the Mercedes-Benz MasterUpfitter Program, we’ll have the ability to have very unique Metris Vans.
Fast Company: How will the Metris Van help you to grow Sixt?
Evan Wexler: We’ve been expanding very rapidly in the United States, and I think our emphasis on the luxury car segment is the main reason for that. The Metris Van is something that will continue to differentiate us from the pack and will strengthen our position as the one rental car company that’s all about luxury. When we add a Mercedes-Benz vehicle to a specific car class, we always notice a marked increase in demand. Even within the short time we’ve had Mercedes-Benz Vans, we’re already getting people coming into our locations requesting the Metris Van.