Fleet News

US firm battles for UK fleets

A NEW name in UK rental is set to shake up the market and spark a new battle for business in the fleet industry.

Dollar Rent A Car is to launch in the UK, with a plan to open 75 locations throughout the UK, starting with locations in major airport locations, including Heathrow, Gatwick, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The UK division of the United States-based rental giant is being operated as a franchise, with Robert Burton, already owner of the master Thrifty franchise in the UK, now also operating the Dollar Rent A Car brand, under his parent company Flightform UK.

Flightform UK operates 75 locations in the UK under the Thrifty Car Rental brand, but the latest move is intended to help it compete head-on with international rental brands.

The company acquired Thrifty franchise rights in 1991, and had since developed Thrifty into a national, value-for-money brand, with a turnover of £35 million within the UK.

The launch, revealed this week, is part of Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group's corporate strategy to expand its international presence by initially offering Dollar branding rights to its existing European Thrifty licensees.

The operation will share back-office functions, fleet and maintenance operations, but expand its potential customer base with two brands and two websites.

Dollar Rent A Car was founded in 1965 in Los Angeles, where its executive offices remained until August 1994, when Dollar relocated its worldwide headquarters to Tulsa. In August 1990, Dollar was acquired by Chrysler. Currently, Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group owns Dollar Rent A Car Systems and Thrifty Rent-A-Car System, which operate separate rental businesses and license independent franchisees to rent vehicles under their brands.

Dollar Rent A Car has more than 245 suburban and on-airport locations at most major airports throughout the United States. Dollar also has more than 415 locations in 28 countries including Europe, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America, with a fleet of more than 74,000 vehicles.

Peter Guptill, Dollar Thrifty's international executive vice president, said: 'The expansion of the Dollar brand into the UK represents an important milestone for our brands and the growth of our company.

'It is an excellent opportunity for our existing locations to have another opportunity in the growing international travel market, while giving our customers the convenience and choice of two strong and recognised brands.'

Vehicle suppliers Renault and Ford have supported Thrifty for many years, and are complemented by Fiat, Mitsubishi Volvo and Vauxhall. There are 1,200 light commercial vehicles within the Thrifty system, expected to grow to more than 2,000 by the end of 2004.

Robert Burton, managing director of Dollar Rent A Car UK, who also heads up Thrifty, said: 'I fully expect us to take 6% market share by the end of 2005 with the introduction of Dollar, up from our current 4%.' For further details, log on to

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