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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Car Rental Company

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Official Site: avis.com
Wikipedia: Avis Rent a Car System

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A rental car company based in Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey and founded in 1946 at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Michigan.


The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Avis Rent a Car System page on 28 June 2016, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Avis Rent a Car System, LLC, better known as Avis, is an American car rental company headquartered in Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey, United States and the Cook Islands. Avis, Budget Rent a Car and Budget Truck Rental are all units of Avis Budget Group.

Avis Budget Group operates the Avis brand in North America, South America, India, Australia and, New Zealand. Recently Avis has acquired Avis Europe plc which once was a separate corporation licensing the Avis brand. Avis is the third largest car rental agency in the world trailing behind Hertz Corporation.

Since the late 1970s, Avis has featured mainly General Motors (GM) vehicles such as Chevrolet and Cadillac, but today also rents popular non-GM brands including Ford and Toyota.

Avis is a leading rental car provider to the commercial segment serving business travelers at major airports around the world, and to leisure travellers at off-airport locations. Many of the off-airport locations are franchised operations rather than company-owned and -operated, as is the case with most airport locations. Avis was the first car rental business to be located at an airport.

In January 2013, the company agreed to acquire Zipcar for $491 million.


The company was founded in 1948 with three cars at Willow Run Airport, Ypsilanti, Michigan, by Warren Avis (August 4, 1915 – April 24, 2007). It established branch operations across the United States over the next few years, becoming the second largest car rental company in the country by 1953. By its tenth anniversary in 1956 it had opened its first international offices in Europe, Canada and Mexico.

Their corporate motto is "We Try Harder" It was adopted in 1962 (during the tenure of Robert Townsend as its CEO) to make a more positive reference of Avis' status as the second largest car rental company in the United States, at the expense of its larger competitor The Hertz Corporation. The slogan was used for 50 years before a re-branding in 2012, in which Avis received a new slogan, "It's Your Space." In 1972, Avis introduced Wizard, the first computer-based information and reservations system to be used in the United States car rental business; to this day, almost all frequent Avis customers are identified by their unique "Wizard number". In 1981, the company instituted its system of vehicle tracking, that was not coincidentally named Advanced Vehicle Identification System (AVIS).

Avis has been owned by a number of other companies over the years, along with several periods of being a public company. These include:

1956 - The Amoskeag Company
1962 - Investment group Lazard Freres
1965 - ITT Corporation
1977 - Norton Simon
1983 - Esmark
1984 - Beatrice
1986 - Investment firm Wesray Capital Corporation
1987 - Majority ownership under an Employee Share Ownership Plan
1989 - General Motors (acquires 29% stake)
1996 - HFS Corporation
2001 - Cendant
2006 - Avis Budget Group

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27 March 2009Avis Europe appoints Web Liquid to Pan European Digital Marketing businessWeb Liquid Group

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