GM To Sell National Car Rental

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General Motors Corp.'s attempt to sell its National Car Rental/Interrent unit is an outgrowth of Detroit carmakers' disenchantment with using captive rental fleets as a way to keep their factories running.

A National spokesman confirmed a sale is expected to be completed within two months. According to reports, National is expected to fetch more than $1 billion.

Domestic automakers acquired rental car companies during the late 1980s and used them as "a supplementary distribution system," said Jesse Snyder, a West Coast analyst for Autofacts, a West Chester, Pa.-based marketing consultancy.

GM also has a stake in Avis; Ford Motor Co. has stakes in Hertz Corp. and Budget Rent a Car Corp.; and Chrysler Corp. owns Thrifty Rent-A-Car System, Dollar Rent A Car Systems and Snappy Car Rental.

While sales stagnated, automakers maintained market share and kept factories operating by pumping cars into the rental system. But that put low-mileage used cars into the marketplace.

Detroit began backing off last year as retail sales began to rebound. The Big 3 moved 990,000 vehicles into rental companies in the 1994 model year, 29% fewer than '92, said Auto Rental News.

The sale of National to another car rental company could be bad news for W.B. Doner & Co., Southfield, Mich., which picked up its estimated $20 million account earlier this year.

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