The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Avis, Warren

Warren E. Avis founded Avis Rent a Car. He started as a Michigan car dealership owner who, frustrated at waiting for taxis outside airports, founded a chain of car rental agencies and turned it into the nation's second biggest.

Avis died at his home in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 2007 He was 92.

According to his obituary in the New York Times, "When Mr. Avis opened his first Avis Airlines Rent-A-Car in Florida and Michigan, all his rival companies were in downtown garages.  So Mr. Avis, a former major in the Army Air Force who spent a great deal of time at airline terminals, decided to open rental centers at airports, where he reasoned thousands of airline passengers would need a ride.

"Nobody thought it would work," Mr. Avis said in a 1985 interview. "There was incredible trouble. You had to get all the airlines to cooperate. Where did you put the cars?"

But it did work. Avis employees parked the cars outside airport terminals, and customers, who were at first confused, soon figured out the new system."

Despite the company's early success, Avis sold it in 1954, putting in motion a series of sales that would, over the next few decades, leave his car rental company in the hands of a dozen different owners."

Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, Hertz and Avis bought back franchises in order to establish company-owned operations, and both opened operations outside the United States.  (In Canada, Tilden, which split off from Hertz in the late 1950s, formed its own system.)

Hertz maintained its market leadership in airport rentals by budgeting large advertising campaigns while Avis' creative marketing efforts allowed it to retain the number two position nationally.  All of the systems had advertising participation agreements with one or another of the automotive manufacturers.  This additional advertising support played a major role in helping to build the car-rental business to its present level.

You can read more about the early days of the daily rental business in our historical article here.

A chronology of milestone events in the company's history is on the corporate Avis site.




Comment On This Item

Comment: (Maximum 10000 characters)  
Leave this field empty:
* Please note that comments may be moderated.


Market Trends

Mike Antich
Upward Pressure on Fleet Costs Threatens to Increase TCO

By Mike Antich
Recently, I conducted a survey of several hundred fleet managers to identify emerging industry trends. One recurrent theme expressed by fleet managers was the concern that fleet costs are starting to experience upward pricing pressures. Here's what they told me.

How to Minimize Unauthorized Use of Corporate Assets

By Mike Antich

View All

Driving Notes

Mike Antich
2018 Chevrolet Equinox Diesel

By Mike Antich
The Chevrolet Equinox adds a 1.6L four-cylinder turbo diesel to its lineup of engine choices for 2018. The fuel-efficient turbo diesel generates 137 hp and 240 lb.-ft. of torque mated to a six-speed automatic.

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan

By Paul Clinton

View All

Nobody Asked Me, But...

Sherb Brown
Adapting to a Changing Tide

By Sherb Brown
Fleets are often the beta testers of the vehicle market. That shift away from compact sedans we saw in the fleet market a few years ago is playing out in real time in the retail market right now.

Keep Realistic Fleet Expectations

By Sherb Brown

View All

Data Points

Dylan Brown
What Are the Most Valuable Services Offered by FMCs?

By Dylan Brown
What do fleet managers value in their relationships with fleet management companies? The answer may surprise you.

Demand More From Your Fuel Card Provider

By Dylan Brown

View All

In Memoriam: Coach's Insights

Ed Bobit
Thinking of the Newbies of the Future

By Ed Bobit
A lot has changed in the past 10-15 years, so we can only imagine this momentum will continue into the next decade-plus. How will this change impact the fleet manager of tomorrow?

Managing a Car vs. Work Truck Fleet

By Ed Bobit

View All


More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher