Avis CEO says rental car biz is alive and well

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Avis Price range Group could must whip out its outdated “strive more durable” promoting slogan to persuade Wall Road that the rental automobile enterprise remains to be related.

Who must lease a automobile when you possibly can simply get an Uber or Lyft to the place you are going? That appears to be what buyers are asking. Avis and its becoming CAR (CAR) inventory ticker are down practically 25% this 12 months. Rival Hertz (HTZ) has plunged greater than 35% to this point in 2018.

That is an overreaction, says Avis CEO Larry De Shon. He advised CNNMoney that rental automobile corporations will not be going away anytime quickly. Actually, he mentioned that lots of the identical developments which have helped Uber and Lyft in huge cities are giving Avis a lift too.

De Shon famous that for a lot of city residents, having a second automobile just isn’t actually an excellent possibility. They’ll get by with one, even when it’s a tiny sedan versus a tank-like SUV.

However what occurs when a metropolis dweller needs to go away city for a visit to the seashore or tenting within the woods?

“When you’ve got a protracted weekend if you need to get away, you must lease a automobile,” De Shon mentioned. “Our common rental is 4 days and 450 miles. That is not an Uber expertise.”

De Shon mentioned that folks aren’t renting Avis automobiles for fast one-day excursions. These sorts of short-term journeys account for under three% of the full rental enterprise at Avis.

“Our shoppers use our automobiles. It is the gross sales particular person on the street going from one metropolis to subsequent or the leisure buyer with youngsters, automobile seats and plenty of baggage,” De Shon mentioned.

Nonetheless, Avis has made some forays into the ride-sharing enterprise. It purchased Zipcar, the corporate that lets individuals lease automobiles for as little as one hour, in 2012.

Associated: Lyft now price twice what it was final 12 months

De Shon mentioned that Zipcar is now obtainable in a number of worldwide markets and at greater than 500 universities as nicely.

Zipcar has tailored its choices too. Along with letting individuals decide up a automobile and return it to the identical spot they bought it, Zipcar additionally now lets drivers drop off automobiles at a distinct location if that is extra handy.

Avis additionally has a partnership with Waymo. the self-driving automobile subsidiary of Google proprietor Alphabet (GOOGL). Avis will present upkeep companies for the fleet of autos Waymo has in Phoenix.

“We now have been working onerous on modernizing our enterprise,” De Shon mentioned, including that the corporate can also be partnering with Toyota and different auto producers so it could add extra related automobiles to its fleet — autos with cell know-how similar to the power to test the odometer and gasoline gauge on a smartphone app.

The Avis app may also be utilized by prospects to test in and select a automobile shortly on the rental location. In different phrases, Avis is hoping to keep away from having lengthy strains of drained prospects who simply bought off a aircraft ready to get their automobile on the airport.

Avis additionally simply introduced an expanded cope with Amazon that can let customers guide a car by way of Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa — and Avis will give these prospects an Amazon (AMZN) present card for doing so.

All that results in happier prospects, De Shon mentioned.

“We’re specializing in product choices which can be related to right now’s shopper and makes the rental course of extra easy,” De Shon mentioned. He added that Avis requested prospects for ideas on easy methods to finest design the Avis app — and that buyer satisfaction is greater than when reservations are accomplished by the app.

This could increase income too. Analysts predict an earnings improve of practically 25% this 12 months.

Now Avis simply has to persuade buyers that every one these efforts are paying off.

CNNMoney (New York) First revealed July 20, 2018: 9:10 AM ET

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