Avis-Cool-CarsThere is always lots of talk around the office about what cars we might potentially get on fleet, which cars we would like to see and what we think our customers would like to drive. Following on from Robert’s blog post on the Frankfurt Motor Show and news of our exclusivity on the Porsche Panamera in Germany, I was inspired to take a look at some of the other desirable cars available with Avis.

The focus of my attention starts in the US where they have a range of cars, similar to our own Select Series fleet – Cool Cars. Immediately, the selection of cars available in the range had me dreaming of picking up a Chevrolet Camaro (my personal favourite from the range!) at Los Angeles and cruising along the highways to the Grand Canyon to admire the awesome views.

Although, as the Cool Cars range is available throughout the States, from California, to Florida to Texas to Chicago, to name just a few, I could happily spend a few months travelling across the country taking in all the US has to offer, picking up a different car every week!

Alongside the Camaro (which is exclusive to Avis), you could also choose from the Ford Mustang or Chevy Corvette, both modern versions of the traditional ‘muscle cars’ I’ve admired and longed to drive since my youth. The Cool Cars fleet also boasts a handful of urban cruisers in the Cadillac CTS & STS, convertibles (Pontiac Solstice, Nissan 350Z convertible) for the poseurs amongst you and the inevitable ‘gas-guzzling’ SUVs such as the Hummer H3.

But fear not, there is also the Eco-Ride selection for those renters conscious about their carbon footprint. The Eco-Ride cars are either hybrids or have been SmartWay certified by the US Environment Protection Agency as being environmentally cleaner and more fuel efficient vehicles.

Whilst I try to convince my wife that taking the kids stateside to cruise the highways in a muscle car is a great idea for next years holiday, why not share what your ideal Cool Car fleet would look like!

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Life-of-an-Avis-car Being an Avis car means being a busy car. On average our cars travel 14,000 miles, are rented 45 times and spend 10 days in the body shop being repaired. In order to get them into the right place they are moved by 4 times by transporters spending 2 full days on the road without the cars wheels even turning. They travel the length of the country and are used for glamorous film shoots as well as for taking the kids to school.

As well as all these miles driven our cars also spend a lot of time idle. A great proportion of this is when they are awaiting collection from our corporate or home delivery customers. However, as our primary asset, it is of vital importance that we keep our cars spick and span and in the condition that you expect. To help ensure that this happens all our cars undergo checks before every rental. This means that each car will spend 3 days of its life in the Wash and Prep bays having tyre pressures and fluids checked and being cleaned inside and out.

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Christmas shoppingI’ve always considered the switching on of lights in London the official kick off to the festive season, and this morning it was announced on the radio that lights ceremony would be next weekend. When I arrived at the office, ready to share my new found Christmas spirit, one of my colleagues pointed out he is way ahead of me, as he has already finished his Christmas shopping. This sparked an animated conversation about the best places in the UK for Christmas shopping, here are our favourites. Let us know what you think and give us your suggestion.

Westfield shopping centre – London
This is one of my favourites; it is one of the largest shopping centres in Europe, with over 275 shops for you to choose from. No matter if you’re looking for Tiffany’s or Next it’s all there for you to choose from. Also with loads of great restaurants and the fact that it’s open until 9pm most evenings, you can make a whole day of it.

MetroCentre – Gateshead
If you are up in the Gateshead and Newcastle area then visit the MetroCentre. This is THE largest shopping centre in Europe, with over 330 stores, 50 restaurants and a cinema. There is a great mix of designer stores and ‘highstreet’ shops, so you should be able to find exactly what you are after.

Brighton
Although it is not the time of year to be sitting on the beach, Brighton has some great and unique shopping areas. If you are looking for ‘highstreet’ shops then Churchill Square is the place for you, but if you are looking for an array of boutiques, unique shops and restaurants then you need to head down to The Lanes. But if you are looking for a bargain then make sure you head down to the outlet shops at Brighton Marina. This charming seaside town has something for everyone.

Bicester Village, York Outlet Village and Gunwarf Quays
Also for all you bargain hunters out there make sure you check out one of these outlet villages. Bag yourself a great bargain on designer brands and highstreet labels, but all at affordable prices. Also with places to eat or have a coffee you can spend all day shopping to your hearts content (or until you have get everything you need).

Hyde Park London – Christmas Market
If you’re in London between the 21st November to 3rd January and looking to get into the Christmas spirit then make sure you head over to the Christmas market at Hyde Park. This winter wonderland has traditional Christmas market stall, fair ground rides, great food and drinks and much more. You’ll have a great day out and be able to do some Christmas shopping at the same time.

Bath Christmas Market
As Rob mentioned last year Bath Christmas market has been highly recommended as somewhere to go to get in the mood for Christmas. So this year make sure you visit spectacular Christmas market between 26th November and 6th December. There are loads of great stalls to brows and buy unique Christmas gifts form for your family and friends.

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Avis have produced a white paper on Duty of Care to help small to medium business (SMEs) who require members of there staff to travel for work.

FACT: 200 drivers are killed or injured each week whilst travelling on company business*

That’s a chilling figure, but the law of averages says that many of these drivers will be working for SMEs simply because they employ more people than any other sector of UK corporate business.

Research has consistently shown it is the SME sector which is least aware of the responsibilities facing employers around their driver’s safety and for that reason puts them most at risk of prosecution, if an employee is involved in, or causes a major accident whilst driving on company business.

SMEs, just like large corporate companies are expected to adopt a road safety policy, even if they only have a few employees driving on company business to ensure they protect themselves against possible prosecution.

To read the full white paper click here

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I recently read Tim Flannery’s “The Weather Makers”, which assesses the impact that the burning of fossil fuels is having on climate change and the potential consequences of this. The evidence presented overwhelmingly concludes that the burning of fossils is having an impact and, depending on the level CO2 we continue to produce, the potential economic, social and health implications could be pretty dire. Now, I’m not going to claim that I know or understand all the facts, nor am I sufficiently tooled to scrutinise or verify his analysis but, given just how bad things could get, I would much rather tackle a problem that might not be there than suffer the consequences of inaction if Flannery and his peers prove to be right.

But taking action will not only reduce your CO2 output, it could save you money too. So it’s great to see the recent Act on CO2 campaign on TV to promote proactive action and their website provides plenty of practical tips on how we can all reduce our CO2 output. Being in the transport industry, this could not be more relevant for us and our customers. The car hire industry is effectively a “revolving door” of new and near-new cars, giving customers access to the latest models and therefore, through technological advancement, the most fuel efficient cars. But additionally, we can all reduce our CO2 output by adopting some simple tips on driving efficiency that will not only reduce your CO2 output, it will save you money as well. The Act on CO2 website offers six tips for better fuel efficiency. I’ve listed these below with a link to the Act on CO2 website for more information…

1. Pump up to cut down
2. Less clutter in your car means less CO2
3. Driving at an appropriate speed reduces CO2
4. Less stopping and starting means less CO2
5. Over revving accelerates emissions
6. Idling is wasting fuel

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After seeing Christmas decorations in the shops this weekend it hit me that there are only 10 weeks left until Christmas. If you need to hire a car over the Christmas period then I would highly recommend booking one as soon as possible. It is one of the busiest times of year and the cars generally sell out very quickly. Also, not only does it help make sure you get a car, but it also helps to ensure you get the best price!

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(Back l-r) Chris Keogh, Jack MacAree, Steve Libera, Luke Trueman, Jamie Gibson, Charlotte Lowry, Ali Wadsworth; (Front) Rob WhiteIt was BA’s annual charity Fun Run on Wednesday and some of the Avis team had the pleasure of taking part. The 5km run took place at the pretty nature reserve that borders BA’s Waterside corporate headquarters.

While I was happy to “pace” myself with Charlotte Lowry and Ali Wadsworth, the machine that is Chris Keogh ran the circuit in under 18 minutes. Meanwhile Jack MacAree, perhaps feeling that the course on it’s own wasn’t hard enough, decided to help a struggling child by carrying him halfway the way round the track. Jamie Gibson, Steve Liberda and Luke Trueman completed the Avis team.

Over 600 people took part in the event that was presided over by Willie Walsh himself. And it was for a great cause, raising money for Cancer Research UK. Well done all!

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One of our customers, Robert, posted a great review of the Frankfurt motor show on our blog about the BMW Vision Efficient Dynamic the other day. It was so comprehensive, in fact, that we decided to publish it as a full blog post in it’s own right! Enjoy and let us know if you went to the motor show as well!

Rob White – Marketing, Avis UK

I was lucky enough to visit the show yesterday. Thoroughly enjoyed it as always, and I think this year’s is possibly the largest, most lavish there has been so far (well, of the ones I have visited, anyway).

I would agree that this year’s show had a large “electric car” theme to it, which was to be expected, and was very interesting indeed. However, there is still a long way to go and the technology is still in its early days compared to the standard conventional motor car. There were some stunning new cars at the show, I’ll try and mention a few of them that stood out, for me at least. In terms of show stands, BMW most definitely had the most impressive hall, with race tracks running through it, a car “cut walk” etc. It was huge, and if I am not mistaken, I think they had the same hall Mercedes used last year.

As always, some of the more exclusive manufacturers allowed visitors on their stands by invitation only, and I was lucky enough to be invited to visit the Rolls-Royce, Bentley, and Jaguar stands.

I thought the new Rolls Ghost is gorgeous, and the first Rolls that would actually appeal to the younger generation (Not that I could afford one in any way….). I had a nice rest in the back of a Phantom, just to see how the other side lives…

Loved the new Jaguar XJ!!! What a different animal to the old one which was lovely but very traditional. The new one is beautiful, though I can see why it wouldn’t be to all tastes, especially the rear. The XF looks stunning as always. They didn’t bother with any X-Types; seems they are going to stop manufacturing them in the next couple of months anyway, and not a minute too soon. Shame they aren’t replacing it though, as if they came out with a “mini” XF to compete in the BMW 3 and Audi A4 category that would be amazing, but no plans right now.

Now, back to earth…
The new Astra is a lovely looking car both inside and out – It basically has the Insignia interior which is a very good thing, and a huge step forward from the old model. I did find it a little cramped in the back, and if I were driving there would be no way anyone my height (6.2) could fit in the back behind me.

The Citroen DS3 is one of the cutest and coolest little cars I have seen in a long time. They come in 4 different colour combinations, so you choose the roof colour and the body colour, (a trend Mini started, (and which has been adopted by the likes of Skoda with the Fabia, and others). I think I would choose this really cool car over the Mini (brilliant fun to drive but too common now), or the 500.

Talking of Mini, they did bring the new Mini concept Coupe convertible which they have promised they are going to make – it’s really cool and makes a nice change from the standard one.

Renault brought the new Fluence to the show. It’s a family salon originally aimed at developing Eastern markets, but I was told they are now considering selling it in Western Europe too. It’s a actually a nice looking car, with the same interior as the Laguna. In fact I was not sure what the point was of offering both cars, and I was told the Fluence was more Megane size then Laguna – Possibly, but it didn’t look that way.

Volvo’s new S60 concept car is a stunner, and the production car due next year is likely to look almost identical. It’s got that 4 door coupe theme going (Ala Merc CLS, Passat CC, A5 etc) and you can definitely spot some styling cues from the XC60 which I think is one of the nicer looking SUV’s on the road.

Saab brought the new 9-5 to the show. This is basically a glorified Vauxhall Insignia. I like the styling, especially from the rear, but the inside is too similar to the Insignia (the steering wheel is identical) and just doesn’t feel special enough. This is a car that starts at £30k and you would have expected a little more from Saab. A bit disappointing, but I’m still interested to see what they will be like to drive.

There were hundreds more cars there of course, from your average family saloons to Lamborghinis and Ferraris, but I’ve tried to sum up the few that actually got my attention for more than just a couple of minutes…

All in all a great show, looking forward to the next one already!

Robert

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On Monday 21st September I had the pleasure of attending the Business Traveller Awards 2009. The awards were held at the London Hilton Park Lane and presented by explorer and adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes BT OBE.

The event was attended by 450 of the travel industries leading figures including Willie Walsh and the cabin crew from the now famous Virgin TV advert.

Avis did not have to wait long before we won our award, in fact the first award of the ceremony; Avis maintained the award for Best Car Rental Company in Europe 2009.

Not only was I pleased that we had been recognised as the leading Car Rental Company in Europe, but to hear the adventures of Sir Ranulph Fiennes BT OBE and how he has overcome so many personal issues was a true inspiration.

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Porsche PanameraIt looks like Porsche have finally cracked a challenge they’ve been taking on for years: a four seater, four door family car that retains the poise and performance of a classic Porsche. The car I’m talking about is the new Porsche Panamera.

And the car, one of Porsche’s most anticipated in many years, has not been short of rave reviews despite the bold steps that has been taken. Stuart Birch of the Telegraph states that the “steering is beautifully weighted, brakes massively powerful and the transmission/engine duo an invigorating harmony act” while Giles Smith at the Times enthuses “what a relief to find something with the Panamera’s handsome, low-slung lines. In two-wheel drive, as in appearance, the car does a loose but enjoyable impression of a 911″. OK, so some people may not buy into it. They might find it a bit bulky or perhaps not quite grasp it’s place in the market. But I think it looks great and you’d be hard-pressed to find a review that doubts it’s performance.

And in a real coup for Avis, the team in Germany have managed to bring the Porsche Panamera exclusively to their fleet. It even comes equipped with a Bose Surround Sound System. Unfortunately it can only be booked on a purpose-built microsite which happens to be in German. But if you do want to book it and feel confident enough to navigate the language then you can do so by visiting www.avis.de/panamera. Otherwise you can try our German call centre on +49 1805 55 77 55 (and they do speak English!).

And as the Panarema represents something of a new concept we’d love to hear your feedback. Do you believe that Porsche has nailed the four door family car? Or have they been unable to make the transition? Let us know what you think!

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The details of all blog posts are correct at the time of publication. Information and offers are subject to change without prior notice. Please check www.avis.co.uk for the most up-to-date information.

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At Avis, we really do try harder. We pioneered blogging in the car rental world and we aim to make our blog much more than just an information source. You can use our blog to ask questions or tell us what’s important to you when you hire a car. We try harder because we care what you think, so we really do value your feedback.

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