Europcar’s New U.S. Leader Prepares for Growth



Olivier Baldassari, managing director of Europcar Mobility Group USA, Australia, and New Zealand since April, is taking a low-key approach to planning the company’s U.S. growth. He emphasizes the...

Olivier Baldassari, managing director of Europcar Mobility Group USA, Australia, and New Zealand since April, is taking a low-key approach to planning the company’s U.S. growth. He emphasizes the need to help and serve customers, as mobility is changing the rental car industry and broadening options.


Europcar brought in a new leader recently after a few challenging years when a major acquisition overlapped with the onset of a global pandemic and a travel slowdown.

For Olivier Baldassari, who was appointed in April as managing director of Europcar Mobility Group USA, Australia, and New Zealand, 2024 stands as a pivot year for pursuing plans to grow the brand in the U.S. while eyeing a future of wider transportation mobility. 

Europcar/Fox is now the fifth-largest auto rental brand in the U.S., according to Auto Rental News. It ranks among the five largest rental car companies in the world.

Baldassari’s role covers all activities and rental brands of Europcar and Fox Rent A Car in the nations listed in his new job title. He first joined Paris, France-based Europcar Mobility Group in 2019, where he started as chief countries and operations officer. He has more than 37 years of experience in operations, logistics, and information technology, with previous experience at Rexel, Delphi, and Smurfit Kappa.

“When we look at Europcar, we remember how we see our role in the transformation of the world,” Baldassari said in his first extended interview with Auto Rental News. “We have a role to play.

“In the U.S., Europcar Mobility Group acquired Fox in 2019. The timing could be seen as good or bad; COVID broke after the acquisition. We had planned to integrate Fox faster but had to shuffle and shift priorities. In 2020-21 we survived through a crisis and then came back to normal activity. The last few years have been challenging. Now for us in the U.S. it’s the right time to come back.”

Pursuing High Priorities in a Low-Key Way

Baldassari is taking a low-key approach to planning the company’s U.S. growth.

“We are still a small player in the U.S.,” he said. “We don’t have any lessons to teach anyone. We are here to learn and grow step by step.”

The leader emphasizes the need to help and serve customers, as mobility is changing the rental car industry and broadening options.

Europcar so far has rental car outlets at 23 U.S. airports. It has a strong presence in California, Texas, Chicago, and Denver. The company is eyeing larger airport locations in the Northeast, such as Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.

While Europcar owns Fox Rent A Car, Baldassari sees Fox as more of a domestic enterprise with a solid network, while Europcar is a global brand seeking U.S. outlets for its international travelers coming to the U.S. Fox is a structural starting point for the Europcar brand presence, and the company plans to identify gaps and differences and see over time how to bridge them, Baldassari said.

“Europcar is an international brand strong in Europe and Latin America. In the U.S. the awareness is low. We have an opportunity to see how we can leverage awareness in Europe and capitalize on international customers to grow the business. And by building awareness in the U.S., we can get more domestic business.”

Because the U.S. is such a diverse market with a wide range of different cities, Europcar is looking at local markets and competitors, sizing up rental fleets, and managing capacity that requires a regional approach, he said.

“The big difference with Europe is in those countries you manage fleet capacity and market presence at the country level. In the U.S., we must look at how we develop business in such places as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Dallas, Houston, Denver, and in Florida.”


Europcar is creating a distinct appearance, experience, and feeling, such as in the designs of the Atlanta and Dallas rental locations with their soft lighting, rebranded counters, new employee...

Europcar is creating a distinct appearance, experience, and feeling, such as in the designs of the Atlanta and Dallas rental locations with their soft lighting, rebranded counters, new employee uniforms, and green-colored logos and facilities.


Creating a Distinct Customer Service

Baldassari recognizes that each company’s “DNA” varies, and he sees Europcar as a “relationship company” involved with its partners, airports, and OEMs.

“The company values of Europcar are unique,” he said. “Our communication keeps a lower profile, with our customers at the center of what we do instead of ourselves. We are here to serve the customer and help them.”

Inbound renters from Europe need extra attention, Baldassari said. “When arriving from Europe, you are lost. You don’t speak the language. Renting a car can be painful. You are not sure about insurance, tolls, and taking the highway. We are here to create an experience of renting a car after 9-10 hours on a plane.”

Europcar tries to make that experience painless by easing the journey, he added.

Balancing Europcar and Fox Brands

Some Fox Rent A Car locations are rebranding to add Europcar counters that host priority lines for international clients.

“We want the customer journey to be different because the positioning of the brands is different,” Baldassari said. “We will rebrand Europcar and tell Fox customers that we will continue to serve them. They’ll be served from the Europcar counter, and it doesn’t change dramatically.”

In defining Europcar and Fox, Baldassari said the two brands deal with their own sets of customer expectations and needs that must be met. The company will face the questions of how much dual branding makes sense, and to what extent Europcar and Fox serve each other’s customers.

“We need to create awareness of the Europcar brand as number one because it is not very well known,” Baldassari said. That means creating a distinct appearance, experience, and feeling, such as in the designs of the Atlanta and Dallas rental locations with their soft lighting, rebranded counters, new employee uniforms, and green-colored logos and facilities.

“I can foresee a range of products in the future to arrange different needs for Fox and Europcar, and sell peace of mind to international travelers,” Baldassari said.

A Location Strategy That Fits the Brands

In choosing locations, Europcar uses and plans to develop airport and off-airport facilities, depending on availability, Baldassari said.

At the Los Angeles International Airport, for example, Europcar will remain off-airport since LAX is opening a massive CONRAC facility nearby. “When the opportunity arises to go to an airport, we take it,” he said. “There are cases where we can go on the airport if it’s medium-sized, and then situations with no availability where we have to look off airport.”

Europcar has to establish relationships with body shops, hotels, and support businesses since airport-related clientele are 70% of the business, Baldassari said. “To build awareness in the U.S., you first need to exist in airports; not an airport-only strategy, but the priority is to get business around the airports.”

Making the Most of Future Mobility

One of Baldassari’s leading areas of expertise – and most passionate topics — is the wider world of mobility.

In looking toward the future, Europcar will consider branching into carsharing and vehicle subscription services, but it first must ensure its brand is widely known with a higher profile, he said.

The company offers mobility services in Europe, which it eventually sees for the U.S. “Once we establish presence, awareness, credibility, and trust, then we can go to other areas of mobility,” he said.

Europcar Mobility Group was created in 1949 based on how to make “a luxury object” called a car available to more people, he said. The company’s vision was rooted in the French word for car subscription to fulfill the concept of providing a mobility solution for people who couldn’t afford to own a car.

Now mobility is making a comeback as cars are becoming more expensive and often spend a lot of time sitting in a garage, Baldassari said. The concept of moving from an economy of ownership to an economy of usage based on mutualized assets defines car rental.

“Customers have new expectations. Many don’t want to own a car, but they want to move more than ever. Mobility is going from point A to B by using means of finding and using new transportation solutions that are emerging.”

Whether mobility involves car sharing, subscriptions, or rideshare, all solutions use vehicles that are somehow shared, he said.

Europcar Mobility Group began shifting into subscription and carsharing in 2018, said Baldassari, who described subscription as a “car rental for a few months.”

A continuum of solutions can meet the needs of customers, he said. “It still looks very much like car rental but is more flexible and user-friendly.”

OEMs also are encountering customers who want to use cars but do not own them, requiring them to think and adapt, he added.

Citing the company’s motto of “excel, expand and explore,” Baldassari reiterated that Europcar’s strategy is to move cautiously into these new ventures.

“We want to be a smarter user of technology than an inventor of tech, and then see how to apply different types of technology.”





Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top