Warren Avis founded Avis in 1946 near Detroit. It was located at Willow Run Airport; it was a novelty at the time for a rental car company to be at an airport. In fact, Avis was the first rental car company to do so. The company soon had locations in other areas, including Miami. By 1953, Avis had opened locations across North America and in parts of Europe.
Avis has almost 6,000 locations worldwide in 165 countries. In North America, Avis has a presence in such cities as Anchorage, New York City, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Quebec City, Canada, Toronto, Canada, and Mexico City, Mexico. Around the world, Avis has locations in places such as Sydney, Australia, Hong Kong, New Delhi, India, Paris, France, Barcelona, Spain, Istanbul, Turkey, Beirut, Lebanon, Guatemala City, Guatemala, and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Avis changed hands a number of times over the course of its development. In 1954, Richard S. Robie bought Avis for $8 million, and by 1956, it had been resold again to the Amoskeag Company. In 1966, the company was purchased again, this time for $51 million by the ITT Corporation. In the 1970s and ‘80s, Avis was also owned by Norton Simon, Inc., Esmark, Inc., Beatrice, Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts, & Company, and Wesray Capital Corporation, but it eventually became an employee-owned company in the late 1980s. In the 1990s and 2000s, the company has been owned by HFS, Inc. and the Cendant Corporation. Because of the Cendant Corporation, the headquarters for Avis is now Parsippany, New Jersey. When Cendant Corporation split, Avis Budget Group, Inc. became the parent company for Avis.
Avis is known for its famous tagline “We try harder,” as well as the reservation system it developed, the Wizard system, which was the first computer-based reservation system to be used. In the past, Avis relied heavily on General Motors cars, but it has since moved into other brands. Today, the company’s slogan is “It’s your space.”
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