Business & Industry

Sep 1, 2015

The european car rental giant

Europcar is one of the major car rental players on the planet. Since its humble origins in France, the company went to become european leader and establish a group that gathers car renting, fleet management and services, always with environment in mind.


Europcar was founded in Paris in 1949 by Raoul-Louis Mattei, originally with the name L'Abbonement Automobile, as part of the Mattei Group. From the start, the idea behind the company was to provide cars for rental "without-chauffeurs". The idea was already in motion in the USA and having it in France was a million-dollar business.

Throughout its history Europcar changed hands several times.

The company is bought from the Mattei Group by Renault, one of Europe's largest car manufacturers, in 1970. Under the new ownership, in 1973, Europcar expands to several European countries besides France, including Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. The following year, 1974, the international expansion continues with new locations in Great Britain, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

As part of the expansion strategy internationally, the company formed Europcar International in 1981 as a holding company that assumes international franchise functions. The same year, Europcar makes a major acquisition with the purchase of Godfrey Davids, which was the oldest (at 50 years of experience) and largest car rental company in the UK.

The mid-80s are a turbulent time for all car rental companies, and Europcar is no exception. In 1988, the ownership of the company is transferred to Wagon-Lits Group. In turn Wagon-Lits sells 50% of the shares to Volkswagen AG, and the two become the new joint shareholders. This arrangement changed in 1992, as Accor Group acquired Wagon-Lits including its 50% share of Europcar.

In addition to ownership changes, early 90s also saw Europcar expanding with global ambitions. In 1992, Europcar became Europcar Interrent with National, Nippon and and Tilden making up the Interrent partners and forming a global network. However, by 1998, the company decides not to renew the Interrent agreement and instead forms a strategic alliance in the US with Dollar Rent A Car. The same year, in another push for expansion through acquisition, Europcar acquires British Car and Van Rental (BCR), and creates one of Britain's largest car rental networks in the process.

Europcar is one of the latecomers to the world of online bookings with the launch of Europcar Online Reservation System in 1999. Also in 1999, Volkswagen AG becomes the sole shareholder in Europcar, purchasing the non-owned shares from Accor.

As part of its North American strategy, Europcar announces in 2000 a new strategic partnership with Budget Rent A Car for Canada and North America. However, in 2006 Europcar buys the European operations of National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car from their parent company Vanguard Car Rental Holdings.

As part of this deal, Europcar entered into a transatlantic partnership with Vanguard's North American operations. Also in 2006, Volkswagen chose to divest from its Europcar holdings, selling to French investment company Eurazeo.

Today, Europcar operates a fleet of over 200,000 vehicles at 2,825 locations in 143 different countries covering Europe, The Middle East, Africa, Indian Ocean, Central America, Mexico, Carribean and Asia -Pacific.

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