An Uber car.
Photograph by Justin Sullivan — Getty Images
By Kirsten Korosec
December 2, 2015

Until self-driving cars are commonplace, Uber needs drivers. The ride-hailing company is constantly drumming up ways to attract drivers, even if those people don’t own cars. The latest effort is a pilot program in Denver that will give Uber-approved drivers access to discounted rental cars through Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Through the program, drivers will be able to rent a vehicle for $210 per week—not including taxes and fees—which is automatically deducted from their earnings. Drivers must pay a $40 nonrefundable startup fee and make a $500 deposit that will be returned when the rental vehicle is returned in good condition. Drivers can rent low-mileage Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra, Hyundai Elantra, Chevy Cruze and Ford Focus vehicles, Uber says. The program will eventually expand to include more cars and cities.

The rental agreement is for at least one week. If drivers remain in good standing with Uber and Enterprise, they can continue to drive the car for up to four weeks. All drivers must return the rental vehicle for an inspection and mileage check every month.

The company has launched other programs to reach Uber-driver hopefuls who are carless or whose vehicles don’t meet the company’s standards. In July, the company introduced a refreshed version of its car-leasing program with lower monthly payments for drivers and more flexible terms.

Rival Lyft has made its own partnerships with the same aim. In October, Lyft announced a deal with Hertz to provide its drivers with lower daily, weekly, or monthly car rental rates.

In an interesting this-startup-world-is-too-small twist, Enterprise Holdings (the parent company of Enterprise Rent-A-Car) has a history with Lyft too. In 2013, Enterprise Holdings bought Zimride, a ride-sharing business founded by Logan Green and John Zimmer that focused on long-haul trips and carpooling for universities and businesses. The two also started Lyft, initially just another service under Zimride, to target the growing interest in shorter, on-demand rides.

Enterprise Holdings has launched other businesses that exist on the fringes of the traditional rental car marketplace. The company piloted an on-campus car-sharing program in 2008 that was initially called WeCar. The program expanded and was rebranded as Enterprise CarShare. The company also had several car-sharing businesses including PhillyCarShare, Mint Cars-On-Demand, I-GO, and Occasional Car, a service in Denver.

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