VW_Golf_2009I am excited to announce the launch of the Avis Eco Collection, our new low emissions car group. If you choose to rent a car from the Avis Eco collection you can drive away in a brand new, stylish and fuel efficient VW Golf 1.6 TDI 90ps. The cars combined MPG is 62.8 and its CO2 emissions are sub 120, at 118g/km. Currently these cars are available at 21 Avis locations across the UK.

Also to celebrate the launch of the new Avis Eco collection, we will offset the carbon offset all of the Eco collection rentals that have pick-ups in December 2009 and January 2010.

We would love to hear what you think about this new car group and it would be great to get feedback if you have rented one of our Avis Eco cars.

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We are pleased to announce that the planned strike by British Airways cabin
crew has been cancelled.

The High Court yesterday ruled that the 12 day strike, originally due to take place over the Christmas period was in fact illegal. It is now expected that all British Airways flights will operate as normal over the festive period.

However you might be travelling, Avis would like to wish everyone that’s travelling over the Christmas and New Year period a safe and stress-free journey.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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Avis are pleased to announce that we now offer our customers the opportunity to offset the carbon emissions from their car rental in the UK when they collect there keys. The cost to offset the rental is £1, this has been calculated based on average vehicle emissions, length of rentals, mileage and age of vehicles. The money raised will be allocated by our partner, The CarbonNeutral Company.

To celebrate the launch for every customer who chooses to offset the carbon on their rental in December 2009 and January 2010, Avis will match the total amount collected.

We would also like our customers to choose which project they want us to invest the carbon offset fund in. We have selected three potential projects, now all we need is for you to vote in our blog poll for one of the following:

Candelaria Hydro Power Project – Guatemala
The project involves the generation of renewable energy through the installation of a run-of-river hydropower plant in Guatemala. The project generated emission reductions of approximately 14,500 CO2 equivalent in 2006, verified and certified to the Voluntary Carbon Standard.

Damao Wind Power Project – China
This project generates clean energy from 40 new wind turbines in China. The total emissions reductions are estimated to be 100,000 tCO2 equivalent, verified to the Gold Standard (GS).

Vehicles for Change
In the Vehicles for Change portfolio, the verifiable emission reductions are generated by a coalmine methane capture project in Germany, which is combined with an initiative in Bosnia and Herzegovina producing bio-diesel from waste cooking oil to be used as cleaner fuel for public buses. If successful, the Bosnian project will demonstrate the financial and practical viability of bio-diesel as a cleaner fuel source, paving the way to sustainable development in a nation adversely affected by war.

Have your vote now!


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You might have heard by now that British Airways has announced a 12 day strike between the 22nd December and the 2nd January. This is expected to affect around a million people.

If you were planning to fly on an internal flight with British Airways within the UK over this period you may want to consider renting a car to get to your final destination. We strongly advise you to book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment, since the car rental industry tends to sell out of cars over the Christmas and New Year period. Avis still has availability at most key airports at the time of writing, but we expect to sell out over the next few days.

If you were flying on BA and had car hire booked with Avis please let us know in advance if your plans have changed as a result of the strike. We will do our best to accommodate your new plans. If you need to cancel or change your booking, telling us in advance will ensure you are not charged a no show fee.

If you would like to book a car or find out about our availability over this period please visit our website www.avis.co.uk or call us on 08445 818181.

We hope that your plans are not disrupted by this strike and that you enjoy a very happy Christmas whenever, and however, you reach your destination.

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I’ve spent a fair bit of time in the mountains since starting to snowboard in 1995, and to be honest I’ve tried most methods of getting out into Europe. 15 hour road trips in the back of unheated windowless Sprinter vans potentially being the highlight.

I’ve found over the years, flying into Geneva or Lyon and then self driving through Avis is an excellent way of tackling the transfer and still retaining independence while in the mountains. I love to explore, and having a hire car allows me that pleasure. This road trip takes you from Lyon Airport all the way to the highest city in France, Briancon and some of the ski resorts worth stopping at in between.

From Lyon airport you should head for Grenoble into the Daulphiné Alps and the Ecrins National Park and some fantastic ski resorts that will suit everyone from total beginners to hardened pro riders and off piste specialists.

The first main resort you will come across is L’Alp D’Huez, a famous stop on the Tour de France. The summit at Pic Du Blanc is an impressive 3300m and apparently has the longest pisted run in Europe at 16km. With 240km of runs and 2 snow parks there should be plenty to keep you occupied. My tip would be to take the “Alpette Rousses” lift up to “Dome de Petite Rousses” to get away from the crowds and marvel at the top lift station and its precarious position atop a 400metre cliff.

A few kilometres further down the valley towards Briancon is a right turn to Les Deux Alps, the party town of this part of the Alps. Bars, clubs and eating a plenty. My personal favourite being the Avalanche Club, although I can’t recall much from my time inside this little gem that is open till the small hours of the morning. The resort goes up to 3600m and has 225km of pistes. Glacier riding in the summer, 2 freestyle parks and smaller parks if you like jumps, spins and rails. You can access best high alpine area in the Southern Alps, La Grave, from here. If you like alpine charm character then head down to the little hamlet of Venosc from the main resort. Traditional building set in the depths of the Venosc valley below L2A.

20 minutes further up the valley towards Briancon is La Grave, although patrolled its total un-pisted and has no formal avalanche controls. Its high, it’s dangerous and should not be considered unless you know what you are doing or have hired a guide from Bureau des Guides de La Grave – La Meije. The area has unsurpassed off piste and 2150m vertical descent as well as some of the most amazing mountain scenery in this part of the Alps. Its also worth noting that the small restaurant at 3200m does an awesome steak, chips and tea, useful when its -32C outside.

From La Grave head towards Briancon and you’ll come over the high mountain pass of the Col Du Lautaret at 2053m, this is often closed due to snow falls. From here it’s all down hill to our last stop, the highest city in France and the sprawling ski area of Serre Chevalier. The three communities of Monetier / Chantemerle and Braincon link up to create a vast ski area of 250km of piste up to 2800m. Probably the most French and family orientated of the resorts in the area, which offers a wide range facilities and riding potential. It has great off piste and tree riding, plus a couple of parks. Briancon itself has a fascinating history and fortifications dating back to the 17th century, so if you do get this far then certainly take the time to drive down into the town and explore…Oh and its has the only McDonalds for about 2 hours…I’m sure some people will be interested in that.

Lyon to Briancon

View Lyon to Briancon in a larger map

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Following my recent post on Top Gear’s review of arguably the world’s greatest driving roads, i-Motor magazine this month looks at the other end of the spectrum and identifies some of the most dangerous roads on the planet.

Below is my pick from their selection
- Eyre Highway, Australia – Has stretches of highway up to 300 miles without settlements is not an ideal place to break down! Also known for being the straightest, flattest road in the world, it’s ‘road trains’ are a familiar, yet dangerous, sight.
- Arc De Triomphe, France – One of the most recognisable monuments in France is found in the centre of a daunting road junction. With multiple lanes and no road markings, it needs to be approached with caution!
- Yungas Road, Bolivia – Built in the 1930’s and known as ‘Death Road’, it has unguarded drops of at least 600m along its single-lane track. Yungas Road is responsible for up to 300 deaths annually earning it the reputation as ‘the world’s most dangerous road’

I know from visiting China that although it doesn’t make the above dangerous road list, is always a place I’d chose to take the chauffeur driven option than drive myself – where have you been that would make you want to choose the chauffeur option?

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A few weeks ago saw the welcome return of Top Gear to our screens – the saviour of weekend viewing in my opinion! All the regulars are back, the TG team, the fantastic cars, breath-taking cinematography, crazy challenges and of course The Stig!

Not too long ago, the TG team declared the Stelvio Pass in the Italian Alps as the ‘greatest driving road in the world’ after taking a selection of supercars for a test drive. In the opening episode of this series the destination was Romania and the Transfăgărăşan.

The Transfăgărăşan road is a winding spectacle, littered with challenging hairpin turns, climbs and descents across the Carpathian Mountain range. It provided the ideal setting for Jeremy Clarkson and co. to drive their chosen cars – the Aston Martin DBS Volante, Ferrari California and Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder LP560-4.

The conclusion after an adventure getting there was that Jeremy admitted to having made a mistake pronouncing Stelvio Pass as the greatest road and gave the Transfăgărăşan road in Romania the title!

Do you have experience of driving along some of the featured roads or have recommendations on where to go to get that ultimate driving experience?

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Driving in WinterWe know that many drivers are unsure of how to cope with conditions on the roads during the winter months. And it’s not just ice and snow which cause problems. You also need to take extra special care when there is fog, wind, rain, wet leaves and glare from the sun!

We have teamed up with Interactive Driving Systems, to help you become more aware of the risks and keep you safe when you are driving this winter.

Our top 10 tips for driving in the winter
1) Check the weather conditions before you set out.
2) Keep your distance from the car in front – it can take 10 times longer to stop in icy conditions and twice as long in wet conditions.
3) Drive carefully in a low gear .
4) Do not brake suddenly – as this can cause you to skid. If you do skid, steer in the direction of it
5) Leave plenty of time for your journey.
6) Use dipped headlights in fog and in thick fog use fog lights, but don’t forget to turn them off once conditions improve.
7) Don’t drive through flood water .
8 ) Make sure you have plenty of fuel and keep an emergency kit in the car (warm clothing, boots, flashlight, food and drink, blankets and a high-visibility jacket).
9) Tell someone about your journey and let them know when you have arrived .
10) Keep your mobile phone with you and the number of a breakdown company.

If you have any other tips to stay safe this winter let us know.

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Apparently it’s all relative, time, space…and even which side of the road is right and which one is wrong.

I’ve recently passed my driving test in the UK and having originally learnt to drive in Italy, and have to admit that the first impact with driving on the left, was well, interesting. As my driving instructor eloquently put it, in the UK: “left is right and right is wrong…”, and that little mantra will probably stick with me forever.

But that got me thinking about all the British drivers who every day cross the Channel and face the slight disconcerting feeling of looking at the world suddenly flowing in the wrong direction.

Unfortunately I don’t have a catchy phrase for that, but I’ve tried to collect a short list of tips which I hope you could find useful:

1) Keep right: obvious as it sounds, that’s the golden rule when driving in Europe the USA and most other countries outside the UK. Right lane is your regular navigation lane whereas the left one is for overtaking.

Bear in mind that the side of the road is not the only thing you have to consider when driving abroad. Of course most road signs and general rules are the same but others vary by country. In Italy for example you normally give way to vehicles coming from the right, but if you are driving roundabout you have to give way to traffic coming from the left.

2) Watch your speed: when you drive the “wrong side of the road” you will have to fight rather than rely upon some of your basic instincts, and if total concentration is paramount, driving at a moderate speed will give your brain that extra time needed to assess the situation and make the right decision in an unfamiliar situation.

3) Follow the crowd: I know this could sound obvious but paying attention to what other road users are doing is usually the best way to get, and stay, on the right side of the road when pulling out off a parking space or exiting a junction.
This is especially important when coming out of a junctions or…negotiating your way across a roundabout.
Of course if you are coming out an airport car park, chances as your fellow drivers might be as clueless as you are…. so be careful!

4) Take your time: Make sure you take few moments to familiarise with your car before you set off. No matter where you drive, pedals will be in the same, but when you drive in Europe for example, the steering wheel and the stick gear will be on your right so you will have to learn to change gear with your right hand. Doesn’t take long to get use to it, but if you feel this could be an issue for you, you might want to consider going for an automatic car.

5) Mind the curb: gauging distances when you suddenly have the bulk of your car on your right instead of your left might be tricky especially when you are trying to find your way around those picturesque, narrow passages that are so popular in Italy, Spain and France. So once again be careful and allow plenty of space when overtaking.

I hope these tips help, but if you have any others of your own please let us know.

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Following on from Barry’s post mentioning particular Cool Cars you’d like to see on fleet, I’d like to introduce what could potentially be the future of practically zero emission transport, although I’ll leave it up to you to judge whether or not it’s a “Cool Car”.

With such a high focus lately on low carbon emissions it was only a matter of time before air powered cars became a reality. And that reality is far closer thanks to Guy Negre, a French auto engineer who has developed a car powered by fresh air, with a fraction of the carbon emissions to that of a standard engine. He claims the car can reach speeds of 30mph-plus, travel for 65 miles on a one-minute recharge and best of all will only set you back just over £3000.

With Electric cars now on the rise, Negre has promoted the AirPod claiming “Compared to electric cars, air-powered cars cost a fraction of the price to buy, they don’t need expensive batteries to be replaced every five years or so and crucially they take only a fraction of the time to recharge.”

The plan is to have the air powered cars ranging from three-wheeled buggies to four-wheeled, five-door family saloons. This is then expected to increase to eventually include Vans, buses, taxis and boats. There is a potential agreement that could see air cars on sale in the UK within three years.

Ultimately it’s a City Car but for those of you looking for slightly further ventures there is a hybrid, battery-assisted version which is claimed can reach 100mph and travel 900 miles on one gallon of petrol.

Would you like to see air-powered vehicles available for rental within major city centres in the future? Would you be persuaded to rent based on the practically non-existent carbon emissions, the small compact size or the virtually free running costs? Let us know what you think.

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Please note:

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.

All comments will be moderated so there may be a delay in your comment going live. We will filter out anything that is confidential, inappropriate, abusive, defamatory, profane, or anything considered as spam or an advertising link. We promise not to cut something just because it's not favourable to Avis.

We ask that if your feedback is regarding a past rental, you include your reservation details (which will be removed from the live post). If your comment is a customer service issue, you can email customer.service@avis.co.uk .
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Why we love to blog

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.

New to car rentals? Our blog gives you tips and advice on getting the most out of your Avis car hire experience. You can find information about booking and hiring your car, safety tips, and eco driving. We also provide driving advice and the latest news about our fleet.

We understand that hiring a car is just one part of your trip, so our blog covers other aspects of holiday and business travel too. Whether you want to know more about business travel hire conditions, access to location and city guides or ideas for families travelling with children, it’s all here.

But that’s just a taster – find out more about the Avis blog.