Fleet News

Europcar shrugs off international crisis as it pushes to be number 1

Strong demand for rental in Italy, France and Germany helped Europcar shrug off an international crisis in car rental last year as it pushes to become the biggest car rental company in Europe by 2003.

Out of the company's key markets of Spain, Great Britain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, France and Portugal, three national subsidiaries stood out.

In Italy, turnover jumped 29% to 152.7 million Euros, in France, it rose 8% to 189 million Euros and in Germany, revenue rose 5% to 435 million Euros.

This helped the company to post pre-tax profits for 2001 of 26.2 million Euros, up from 24.1 million Euros in 2000, on turnover up from 986 million Euros to .05 billion Euros.

But this year, Europcar expects to see turnover rise 8% and profits more than doubling to 50 million Euros as further efficiencies in the operation take effect, despite total rentals rising from 5.6 million in 2001 to a predicted 5.8 million this year, clinching the number one spot.

The firm now has a global network in 118 countries, with 111 countries operating franchises and seven run in-house by Europcar, together covering 2,660 locations, with 4,390 employees.

Dr Michael Kern, chief executive officer of Volkswagen-owned Europcar, said part of its success was in being a total mobility provider.

He said: 'Europcar has developed into a global provider of mobility services. The foundation for this transformation consists of partnerships with airline companies, railway operators, hotel groups, automobile clubs and breakdown providers.'

Traffic on the company's website increased 54% year on year, now registering 200,000 hits each month.

Kern added: 'Europcar thus integrates the business of renting cars within a consistent global mobility concept. Europcar is engaged in further collaborations with tour operators, travel agencies and automobile manufacturers.'

In keeping with the global focus, the company is now looking towards the Asia-Pacific region for expansion, particularly in China. The country already has 1,600 service stations from Volkswagen and Kern said: 'The company already enjoys excellent infrastructural preconditions, whereby the task in future will be to exploit these advantages together.

'In view of the impending Olympic Games in 2008, a quantum leap might be possible within the vehicle rental business in the people's republic.'

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