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Home Depot, Penske Truck Leasing In Pilot Truck-Rental Test

By Maxwell Murphy Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Home Depot Inc. (HD) and Penske Truck Rental are in the preliminary stages of a pilot program to rent Penske's large, yellow moving trucks at four Home Depot stores in the Richmond, Va., area, representatives of both companies confirmed Friday. If successful, offering Penske trucks could help Home Depot better serve its home-improvement customers who happen to also be moving, providing a one-stop shop for consumers to both buy their moving supplies and rent the 12-foot to 26-foot moving trucks they'll need to get to their new abodes. Under the test program, Penske Truck Rental can rent trucks to both consumer and commercial customers, a Penske spokesman said. However, the pilot is only about three weeks old, and it is too early to tell if any larger roll-out of the truck-rental service will materialize, according to a Penske spokesman. Home Depot is no stranger to pilot programs, many of which never come to fruition, like on-site gas stations, Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) construction-equipment rentals and in-store Dunkin' Donuts shops. Spokesmen for Home Depot and Penske declined to discuss further details, like future test markets or how the arrangement would work in terms of revenue and cost sharing. Atlanta's Home Depot is the nation's largest home-improvement chain ahead of Lowe's Cos. (LOW), and Penske Truck Leasing Co., of Reading, Pa., which runs Penske Truck Rental, is a joint venture 50.1% owned by closely held Penske Corp. and public automobile dealership Penske Automotive Group Inc. (PAG), and 49.9% owned by General Electric Co. (GE). Penske Truck Rental rivals in the consumer moving-truck-rental business include Amerco's (UHAL) market-leading U-Haul and Avis Budget Group Inc.'s (CAR) Budget Truck Rental, and on the commercial side it competes with Ryder System Inc. (R). The arrangement allows Penske to rent both commercial and consumer trucks from its Home Depot locations, the Penske spokesman said. -By Maxwell Murphy, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2171;

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