Avis History | Avis Rent a Car

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1946 - Avis is founded by Warren Avis at Willow Run Airport in Detroit with an $85,000 investment. This is the first car rental operation located at an airport. Soon after, facilities are opened at Miami Airport.

1953 - Franchise operations are begun in Europe, Canada and Mexico.

1954 - Avis is sold to Boston financier Richard S. Robie for $8 million.

1956 - Avis is acquired by investment group led by Amoskeag Company. Avis, Inc. is formed as a formal holding company for the company's related business interests.

1960 - Avis Europe corporate offices are established in the United Kingdom.

1962 - Investment banking firm, Lazard Freres & Company, buys Avis.

1963 - "We Try Harder." advertising and marketing campaign makes its debut.

1965 - ITT Corporation buys Avis for $51 million.

1972 - ITT spins off Avis as a public company. Wizard® is introduced, the first real-time information management and reservation system.

1973 - Avis is recognized as the market leader in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

1977 - Norton Simon, Inc. buys Avis for $174 million.

1979 - Avis enters a worldwide advertising and marketing agreement with General Motors and begins featuring GM cars in its fleet worldwide.

1983 - Esmark, Inc. acquires Norton Simon in a $1 billion purchase; Avis is part of the deal.

1984 - Beatrice buys Esmark for $2.5 billion, with Avis included again. Rapid Return is introduced - the car rental industry's first automated self-service check-in service.

1985 - Wizard is implemented in Europe, directly linking over 2,000 Avis locations with the ability to interface with all major reservation systems.

1986 - The investment firm, Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Co. buys Beatrice for $6.2 billion; says it will sell Avis. Wesray Capital Corporation, another investment firm, acquires Avis for $263 million plus the assumption of debt. Shares of Avis Europe are listed on the London Stock Exchange.

1987 - Avis' Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) purchases Avis for $750 million, plus the assumption of debt. Avis is considered a model ESOP company and is one of the largest employee-owned companies in the United States. WizCom International, Ltd., an Avis subsidiary, is established to market the company's renowned computer expertise to major hotel chains around the world and other industries, including other car rental companies. Avis also introduces Roving Rapid Return, a handheld computer terminal allowing customers to bypass the Avis counter.

1989 - General Motors Corporation buys Avis stock; becomes a minority shareholder. Avis Europe is sold to Cilva Holdings, which is jointly owned by Lease International SA, General Motors Overseas Corporation and Avis, Inc.

1989 - Avis Cares®, a multifaceted program designed to increase renter/employee-owner safety, is introduced.

1991 - Avis earns site visit by Malcolm Baldrige National Quality examiners in competition for prestigious award.

1992 - Avis earns second on-site visit by Baldrige examiners.

1994 - Wizard is implemented in more than 34 countries.

1996 - Avis is acquired by HFS Incorporated, the world's largest franchiser of hotels and residential real estate brokerage offices. Wizard is now in 53 countries.

1997 - Avis becomes a public company with a successful initial public offering. HFS retains the Avis brand name and franchising rights, WizCom International, and a minority interest in the newly public Avis. Avis purchases all of the outstanding capital stock of First Gray Line, the second largest Avis System franchisee in North America, with 70 locations in Southern California, Nevada and Arizona.

1998 - Avis announces secondary offering of its common stock.

1998 - Avis purchases Hayes Leasing Company, Inc., a franchisee in Texas, and also makes six other smaller acquisitions.

1999 - Avis continues to purchase franchisees and acquires the fleet management and fuel card businesses of PHH and Wright Express to form Avis Group Holdings, Inc.

2000 - Avis InterActive is introduced, the industry's first Internet-based reporting system.

2001 - Avis is ranked highest for customer loyalty among 129 companies evaluated for the Brand Keys® Customer Loyalty Awards.

2001 - Cendant purchases all of the outstanding shares of Avis Group Holdings it did not currently own in a transaction valued at $937 million, resulting in Avis Rent A Car System, Inc. becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of Cendant. The company's world headquarters moves from Garden City, NY to Parsippany, NJ.

2001 - Avis ties for number one in the J.D. Power ranking of business traveler satisfaction with rental car companies.

2001 - AARP names Avis one of 11 "Exemplary Companies for Workers Over 50"

2002 - Avis becomes the first and only rental car company to adopt the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's LATCH system ("Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children") as its standard for child restraint installation.

2002 - Avis is ranked highest for customer loyalty among 158 companies evaluated for the Brand Keys® Customer Loyalty Awards.

2003 - Canadian Professional Sales Association names Avis "Car Rental Company of the Year"

2003 - Women's Presidents' Educational Organization (WPEO) presents Avis with "Outstanding Corporation of the Year" award.

2003 - Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) names Avis "One of America's Elite Eight Corporations for Women's Business Enterprises" for the second consecutive year.

2003 - Avis launches a Spanish and Portuguese language version of Avis.com.

2003 - Avis introduces XM Satellite Radio in all Premium and Luxury vehicles.

2003 - Avis Assist, the first hand-held GPS system is introduced.

2004 - Avis launches Avis Access - the first car rental offerings for travelers with disabilities.

2005 - Avis is ranked number one car rental company in customer loyalty by Brand Keys. Also ranked number two in overall customer loyalty behind Google.

2005 - Avis launches the first wi-fi in car rental locations.

2005 - Avis is honored by AARP as a "Featured Employer" for employing and retaining employees over 50.

2005 - Cendant announces it will split into four separate companies.

2006 - Avis becomes Avis Rent A Car System, LLC.

2006 -- Cendant Corp. is separated into four independent companies, Realogy, Wyndham Worldwide, Travelport and Avis Budget Group, Inc., which is now the parent company of Avis Rent A Car System, LLC.

2006 - Avis introduces 'Cool Cars', a collection of fun-to-drive vehicles that can be reserved by specific make and model

2006 - Avis debuts where2®, a portable GPS navigation system, in the United States

2006 - Avis becomes the first car rental company to offer electronic toll collection, by introducing eToll on the E-ZPassSM network.

2007 - Avis is the first rental car company to offer customers portable wireless Internet with Avis Connect

2007 -Avis introduces e-Receipts, a paperless alternative to rental receipts

2007 - Avis rolls out where2 GPS to Canada

2007 - Avis launches Avis First, a new customer loyalty program for frequent renters

2007 - Avis introduces "Chauffeur Drive," in conjunction with WeDriveU, Inc.

2007 - Avis expands eToll to Florida, Colorado and Puerto Rico

2007 - Another technology time-saving first from Avis: Avis.com is optimized for handheld devices

2007 - To complement where2 GPS, Avis introduces an online trip planner at www.avis.com/mywhere2. Renters can download information on concerts, sporting events and other activities at 25 major U.S. business travel destinations.

2008 - Avis introduces next generation of where2 GPS

2008 - Avis adds the storied Chevrolet Corvette to its 'Cool Car' collection

2008 - New Mobility products for travelers with disabilities are added to Avis Access® program. Full suite of mobility devices are now available nationwide.

2009 - The new Avis.com rolls off the assembly line

2009 - Avis upgrades where2 GPS device with flight status feature provided by MSN® Direct

2009 - Avis 'Cool Car' collection welcomes legendary Chevrolet Camaro to the streets

2009 - Avis launches an iPhone application making it the United States' first-ever rental car app

2010 - Avis is named the leading car rental company in customer loyalty by the Brand Keys® Customer Loyalty Engagement Index for the 11th consecutive year.

2010 - Avis launches next-generation iPhone and iPod Touch application

2011 - Avis Budget Group, Inc. acquires Avis Europe plc. The transaction re-unites Avis Budget Group with its licensee for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.


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