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Car Rental Agencies Continue Dramatic Expansion

Greek car rental agencies continue to expand at a rapid rate, according to a recent report from the Athens-based Research Institute, ICAP. In its third report on the car rental industry, the institute says that Greece hosts around 2,500 such companies.

It says their major problems include the existence of a black market in car hire, unpaid traffic violations (on the part of clients) and the banning by law of hiring out chauffeur-driven cars as well as the rental of light trucks and mini-buses.

Between 1995 and 1999, the Greek car hire industry grew at a constant rate  of some 26% annually.

Greece’s biggest rent-a-car agency, Autohellas-Hertz, said it enjoyed greater turnover and profits in the first half of the year compared with 1999. Turnover rose from 8.2 billion drachmas to 10.2 billion drachmas, representing a rise of 25%, while profits jumped 27% – from 4.5 million drachmas to 5.7 million drachmas.

The firm notes that its most profitable period is May to October, and that the abovementioned figures cover just the first two months of their peak sales period.

According to company forecasts, the trend should continue throughout 2000, marking the end of a three-year period of rapid expansion.

Autohellas-Hertz spent 11 billion drachmas on adding new cars to its fleet, which is now worth 51 billion drachmas. The firm expects its fleet of cars will exceed 14,500 within 2000, more than double the figure for 1997.

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