Car rental firm Europcar is to extend a thumbprint identification trial to all of its UK locations from next month. Designed to combat vehicle theft, the scheme requires all customers to provide a thumbprint prior to renting a vehicle.
Europcar says it is implementing the scheme following the success of a pilot project at London Stansted airport, in which all of the on-airport car rental companies have been taking part over the last twelve months (see online news August 10, 2006). Europcar says that all of the 48,000 vehicles rented from Stansted airport during the trial were returned at the end of the rental period – this compares to an average of 15 vehicles per month which the company as a whole reported missing during 2006.
Says David Alexander, operations and franchise director: "Vehicle theft is becoming more problematic for us and the ever-increasing sophistication in producing false documentation has made it increasingly difficult for us to trace and recover vehicles that are not returned. We believe that the implementation of the thumbprint scheme across our network will be a significant deterrent against vehicle theft, and as the trial at Stansted has proved, it has been 100 per cent successful."
Alexander added that Europcar has received just 12 complaints regarding the thumbprint requirements at Stansted, and pointed out that prints are destroyed or returned to the customer once the vehicle has been returned. In the case of a missing vehicle Europcar will attempt to contact the customer before handing over all rental documentation including the thumbprint to the police.
At present Europcar is the only car rental firm to announce such a UK-wide scheme, although an Avis representative said the company was "looking into it".
For more information visit europcar.co.uk.
Report by Mark Caswell