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Getting South Africa's mobility right

At Avis, we are committed to playing our role

Urbanisation is accelerating on a massive scale worldwide, and Africa’s population growth will see our cities among the largest in the world within a decade. Innovative mobility solutions are crucial, writes Rainer Gottschick, Chief Executive of Avis Rent a Car southern Africa.


Oxford Economics predicts that by 2035, Africa will be home to three of the 20 most populous cities in the world. At the same time, the GDP growth of African cities will be the second fastest on earth, after China1.


Urbanisation will increasingly power the growth of the world’s economy. It is predicted that by 2030, the industries, services and innovation of our planet’s 750 largest cities will generate $80 trillion, or 61% of total world GDP.1


Cities will become larger, busier and more densely populated. If they are to survive, let alone drive the economy of the planet as predicted, they must find ever more efficient and sustainable ways to move people and goods.


The Johannesburg-Pretoria-Ekurhuleni megacity may reach 16 million inhabitants by 20302. The old ways of single-driver, single-owner mobility must be relooked, if cities growing at this pace are to continue moving people and goods effectively and functioning as coherent economies.


Many experts, like those at PWC, predict that the market for shared, on-demand vehicles will be worth $1.4 trillion by 20303. 


In South Africa, with our established culture of mass transit using multiple mobility solutions, on-demand ride-hailing services were swiftly adopted when they appeared in 2013. They are now part of a suite of options including car rental, car ownership, metro rail, minibus taxis, BRT systems and commuter rail. 


At Avis, we are committed to playing our role in this urban mobility matrix. As car ownership becomes less of a necessity, services like car rental, long-term car hire, “Car-where-you-are” and chauffeur-driven services are drawing increasing interest.

Internationally, the Avis Budget Group has been actively anticipating and driving the change in mobility. From the acquisition of Zipcar in 2013, to the groundbreaking Avis mobile app, the launch of their Mobility Lab in Kansas City, the addition of thousands of connected cars to our global fleet, and partnerships with Waymo, Toyota and Continental, Avis Budget Group has been unafraid to take risks to move our core business -- as well as the industry -- forward.


Today, the mobility landscape is shifting beneath our feet, as consumers increasingly look to on-demand services to get from point A to point B, including bikes, scooters, vans, cars they drive, cars driven by others, and someday, cars that drive themselves. 


The next stage of mobility will undoubtedly be autonomous, self-driving vehicles, which have been rigorously tested for more than a decade by companies like Waymo. As of 2018, Waymo had tested its system in 25 cities across the US, logging more than 8 million km on public roads and more than 8 billion km via simulation.


Avis has a vested interest in ensuring efficient, equitable and safe transportation in our cities and communities. Internationally, the Avis Budget Group is working on solutions with various partners across multiple parts of the mobility ecosystem. As they become viable, we look forward to their eventually adoption in this country.


  • Integrated transit Zipcar pioneered car sharing, and today is the world’s leading car sharing network, present in over 500 cities and towns around the world, with one million members.  Across its network, Zipcar has partnerships with transit agencies in cities around the world, helping to facilitate first/last mile connectivity and enable more efficient “whole trips” that combine various modes of transport. 
  • On-street parking Zipcar offers affordable, safe and clean transportation in places without many transport options and little public parking. With Zipcar, one needn’t worry about parking, you simply drop the car off at its home location.
  • Ride hailing To help expand the benefits of ride hailing, internationally the Avis Budget Group has partnered with on-demand transportation company Lyft to make their fleet available on a monthly basis to people who want to drive but would prefer not to own their cars.
  • Multi-modal transit Combining car solutions with rail travel is a logical solution. In the US, Avis has partnered with Brightline, a privately-owned passenger rail service, to offer their passengers convenient access to Avis and Zipcar vehicles, which can be booked on the Brightline app.
  • Data intelligence Organisations that partner with Avis can have access to anonymised connected car data and expert analysis through an Amazon Web Services collaboration. This could encourage future vehicle innovation for connected travellers and inform smart city planning using road-condition and traffic-volume data.


Mobility is becoming commoditised, and individuals and organisations are increasingly expecting to be able to customise transport solutions to their needs. To ensure mobility works for everyone, Avis is reinventing the rental experience, digitising the business and developing new models, advancing into areas like mobility-as-a-service, connected cars, autonomous vehicles, smart cities and more.

This fascinating process will help to redefine urban living in the decades to come.