Avis car rental arrived in China in 2002, via its Berkshire-based European arm Avis Europe. CHINA ECONOMIC REVIEW asked Avis’s Deputy General Manager Commercial Lucy Barawitzka about the company’s joint venture, Anji Car Rental and Leasing.
Q: How did Avis’s partnership with SAIC come about?
A: Avis wanted to expand into China and finding a strong partner was imperative. Anji Car Rental and Leasing [a wholly owned subsidiary of SAIC] was established in 1992, making it one of the earliest car rental companies in China. Anji wanted to expand its network and develop its business to deliver services at international standards. The priorities for both organizations were aligned, and we formed a 50-50 joint venture in 2002.
Q: What are the biggest differences between operating in Europe and China?
A: The key difference for our industry is that in Europe the car rental business is mature and the purpose of renting a car is widely recognized. The industry is regulated and standards are clearly understood and adhered to. In China the industry is still relatively new. Long-term leasing is a popular choice for customers but short-term rental is less mature. There are a lot of legal changes to manage and the industry is not fully regulated, which presents a lot of issues for the industry.
Q: Do your Chinese clients mainly drive themselves?
A: We have regular requests for both with-driver and self-drive from our Chinese customers. Different customers have different needs and with-driver rentals are a popular choice across Asia. We provide both with-driver and self drive options for short term rental and long term leasing. We also provide with-driver airport transfers and we have started a new one-way rental service between selected cities.
Q.Where is Avis’s current network?
A: At present, Avis operates 22 branches within 15 cities, including North China: Beijing, Tianjin, Qingdao, Shenyang, Dalian; East China: Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Wuxi, Nanjing; and South and West China: Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Chengdu and Wuhan. We are really proud to be the largest international car rental and leasing company. Our safety focus, network coverage and range of services offered (including our national hotline) aim to provide our customers with peace of mind and convenience.