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Europcar to roll out thumbprint identification scheme across UK network

From June 4, all retail customers renting with Europcar in the UK will have to provide a thumbprint as an additional form of identification before they are able to rent vehicles from one of Europcar’s 130 UK rental stations. The nationwide roll out follows a successful year-long pilot at Stansted Airport which was designed to help combat vehicle theft.The initiative was instigated by Essex Police in May 2006, who approached all the car rental operators at Stansted Airport to road test the scheme. Customers were asked to provide a thumbprint prior to renting a vehicle which was used as an additional form of identification. The thumbprint, taken using an inkless gel, was then stored at the rental station with the customers’ rental agreement and destroyed (or returned to the customer if requested) once the car was returned.

The trial has been an unprecedented success. During the trial period 48,000 vehicles were rented from Stansted and all were returned at the end of the rental period. On average 15 vehicles a month were reported missing by Europcar in 2006.

David Alexander, Europcar’s Operations and Franchise Director commented: “It is ironic that the main benefit of car rental, i.e. the freedom to drive a vehicle in any direction you like, is the main threat to car rental operators in trying to get them back. 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% successful.

“Our customers have been happy to assist us in providing a thumbprint and the number of related customer complaints has been 0.025%. We received just 12 complaints during the year-long trial.”

The thumbprint will only be used in the event when a vehicle is not returned. If this happens, Europcar will make several attempts to contact the customer directly, however if there is no response, all rental documentation including the thumbprint will be referred to the police.

Notes to Editors

About Europcar

Europcar, an international organisation founded in Paris in 1949, is the number one car rental company in Europe.

Europcar UK, based in Hertfordshire, carries out over one million rentals every year through its network of 130 locations situated strategically at airports and cities across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Europcar UK is committed to delivering bespoke rental solutions to business and leisure customers, offering rental options of one hour to one year, with or without a driver, through its own fleet of over 28,000 cars and vans.

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