Rental Cars: Hello, Operator, I'M Lost

Hello, Operator, I'M Lost

When mobile phones became popular in the early 1980s, rental-car firms embraced the new technology as a potential profitmaker. But demand for phone- equipped cars, particularly from executives, has been lower than expected. Says Avis Spokesman John Britton: "We found that if a businessman is on the road, that means he needs to see his clients in person. So what does he need a phone for?" Avis has dropped phone-equipped cars, and Hertz has trimmed its fleet from 250 to 50.

But other companies are rolling along in the opposite direction. Dollar Rent a Car announced last week that it will...

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