Say Hello to Sixt

The 100-year-old car rental company has arrived in America with plans to expand its corporate stores and grow a franchise network. Do you have what it takes to be a Sixt franchisee?

Though Sixt is a public company, it is still family driven. Erich Sixt, chairman of the board of directors, is flanked by his wife Regine, senior executive vice president for Sixt international marketing, and sons Alexander (back) and Konstantin, representing the fourth generation of the family within the company. Alexander is head of corporate development, while Konstantin manages the company’s Internet activities.
Though Sixt is a public company, it is still family driven. Erich Sixt, chairman of the board of directors, is flanked by his wife Regine, senior executive vice president for Sixt international marketing, and sons Alexander (back) and Konstantin, representing the fourth generation of the family within the company. Alexander is head of corporate development, while Konstantin manages the company’s Internet activities.

And then there were three. When the Hertz acquisition of Dollar Thrifty is finalized, Hertz, Avis Budget Group and Enterprise Holdings will control more than 93% of the auto rental market in the U.S. The consolidation leaves industry watchers and consumers alike asking the question, “Will there ever be room in this market for a new car rental company?”

And then there is Sixt. Started in Germany in 1912, Sixt might just be the oldest car rental company in the world — or at least the oldest (and biggest) car rental company the American public has never heard of. But that is changing.

Sixt stuck a flag in America early last year when it opened in Miami International Airport. It has since opened four more corporate stores in Florida, another in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and has most recently expanded westward to Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport. The company is looking to open more on-airport corporate stores and has embarked on a U.S. franchise initiative.

Sixt’s plans for America are an extension of the company’s global expansion, which began only 15 years ago. The company now counts about 2,000 locations in more than 105 countries.

With more than $2 billion (EUR 1.564 billion) in total revenue in 2011, Sixt Group can be called a “mobility services provider.” In addition to car rental, Sixt offers fleet management and leasing services, chauffeur services, a luxury rental division and DriveNow, a joint car sharing venture with BMW.

The company, started by Martin Sixt, went public in 1986 yet it still remains a family business, now on its fourth generation. Auto Rental News spoke with Erich Sixt, chairman of the board of directors, to understand the company’s direction and plans for U.S. expansion, and Craig Olson, head of Sixt’s franchise development in North America.

Why Here, Why Now?

So why is Sixt moving into the U.S.? “If you want to be a global player you must be in the biggest car rental market in the world,” Sixt responds, adding that it was important to first establish and expand the European market before voyaging across the Atlantic.

The interior of a location in Nürnberg demonstrates the company’s attention to design detail. The company celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2012 and is in the midst of a significant international expansion. “The world is orange and black, that’s what we are working on,” reads a line from the company’s 2011 annual report.
The interior of a location in Nürnberg demonstrates the company’s attention to design detail. The company celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2012 and is in the midst of a significant international expansion. “The world is orange and black, that’s what we are working on,” reads a line from the company’s 2011 annual report.

A presence in America gives European business and holiday travelers another familiar choice, especially to Florida, a top European vacation destination. In a testament to the company’s global footprint, however, Sixt says he was surprised that initially more Sixt clients traveling to Miami were not coming from Germany but from Brazil and other Latin American countries. Sixt has a strong franchise presence in Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean, so it was only logical to add America as the largest piece of Sixt’s travel matrix puzzle in the region.

The local business is following, witnessed by the uptick in American travelers choosing Sixt at more domestic-oriented airports such as Ft. Lauderdale, Sixt says.

Sixt isn’t stopping with the Sunbelt. The company is looking to open in larger U.S. airports, especially those with high international traffic. Sixt is well aware that those openings don’t come easy, owing to locked-in concession agreements and a finite number of slots already filled by well-established companies.

Recently, the Hertz and Dollar Thrifty merger has accelerated on-airport opportunities, as a result of the Federal Trade Commission’s mandated divestiture of airport locations to resolve anticompetitive issues. Sixt isn’t ready to talk about specific bid possibilities. “Naturally we will examine [the opportunities] very carefully, and if the price is reasonable, yes we are candidates,” Sixt says.

Opening in Canada might happen down the road, especially in regards to franchise opportunities, though the United States is the focus for now.

CONTINUED:  Say Hello to Sixt
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  1. John Lafferty [ September 29, 2013 @ 04:16PM ]

    I would think it would be in the best interest of any media source to investigate a company before they taut their praises and accomplishments. There are multitudes of complaints about SIXT and their handling of customers. I can attest to this because they charged me twice for a rental and refuse to refund my money. They have given me the run-around and delays and refuse to provide any phone numbers for corporate management. When a company becomes a major player, in any endeavor, on the wrong doings of its affiliate then I say its time to revamp your system and treat people with some respect and honesty and make your money the old fashioned way - with hard work instead of deceit.

  2. Thomas Nelson [ July 15, 2014 @ 10:46PM ]

    It is nice to have an alternative for car rental companies. I hope that this company is a good alternative

    budget car rental Singapore

  3. Rafael [ March 2, 2015 @ 03:48AM ]

    These guys are good at what they do, I know that out of my own experience

  4. Bryan [ April 18, 2015 @ 12:14PM ]

    I rented a car at the Sea-Tac airport from Sixt Rent-A-Car for Thanksgiving holiday 2014. When I picked up the car, the agent tried to upgrade my car as well as sell me on Loss Damage Waiver (LDW). I declined both. The agent then read to me the items to which I'd agreed and I confirmed. At no time did she say the LDW was included. At no time did she mention an increase in price from my reservation estimate.

    I was then asked to sign an electronic pad with no option to review the terms/conditions of the rental agreement, the items included, or the price. I signed the electronic pad, was handed an envelope with some documents and keys to the car.

    Upon returning the car, I noticed the price was markedly higher (by $205.02) than I had expected. It was only then that I realized the counter agent had "slammed" me by adding services to my contract I had not authorized or approved. I attempted to dispute the charge at this time, but was informed that since I was returning the car early morning before business hours the attendant didn't have access to the system to change it. He recommended I wait for my bill to arrive because "it is probably just a mistake and will be taken off when they finalize your bill."

    When I received my invoice via email, the unauthorized charges were on the bill. I contacted the rental counter and was informed, "if there was a problem with the invoice, you had to dispute it at the time you checked your car in." I explained I was unable to do so as the individual to whom I turned it in "had no access to the system." Sixt Rent-a-Car then informed me I had no recourse and would have to pay the bill.

    I contacted the Sixt corporate offices and was informed I had to contact the individual office to resolve. Having exhausted my options with the non-responsive company, I contacted my credit card company to dispute the charges. My credit card company contacted Sixt with me on the phone and received the same denial. Upon hearing this, the credit card company filed a formal dispute and notified Sixt they had 90 days to respond or the credit card company would issue a charge-back.

    On March 25, 2015, the 90 day period expired for Sixt to file a response to the credit card company. As of that date, Sixt had filed nothing, nor responded at all to the credit card company's claim of erroneous billing. Pursuant to the notice, the credit card issued a charge back to Sixt in the amount of $205.02.

    On April 17, 2015, I received a demand notice from Sixt for payment of $205.02 + $30 administrative fee for the charge back. I contacted the credit card company and together we called the phone number provided on the letter "for any further questions". The person who answered informed us we had reached the wrong department and could only address the charge via mail.

    It is my firm belief that Sixt Rent-a-Car at the Sea-Tac Airport is practicing consumer fraud by "slamming" customers rental contracts with unauthorized services. Because the consumer is unable to read the contract prior to execution, must rely on the verbal recitation of the terms/conditions by the very individual perpetrating the fraud and the recitation excludes fraudulently included items, the contract should be avoided ab initio.

    Further, Sixt exploits the fraudulently-executed contract of adhesion through their expectation that few consumers will read the lengthy contract that has been folded in thirds and stuffed inside an envelope. The inability of consumers to dispute the charges upon turn-in furthers the fraud.

  5. Jessie [ August 23, 2015 @ 08:51AM ]

    My Name is Jessie Hecht, contract number - 5058230842 (Ticket: DE01-18190842)Cell phone 952-426-8613
    This is my experience with Sixt Rent A Car: On December 6, 2014 I placed a car reservation online with Sixt USA. I entered my Chase Freedom credit card and picked up the car at Tel Aviv airport on December 15, 2014. Upon my arrival at the airport, I asked the sales representative not to use the card I entered online (Chase Freedom), and instead to use a different credit card - Chase United MileagePlus.In January of 2015, I found out that I was charged on both cards: On the Chase Freedom card and on the Chase United MileagePlus card. I called Chase Freedom and asked them to decline the charge because I was charged on two cards. Chase Freedom credited my account and after that I closed the account. After a month or so it appears that Chase Freedom reinstate the charge of $779 on my account.The reason was: Sixt Rent A Car stated that the charge is valid and I need to pay the amount of $779. I tried to explain that I have paid the charge on a different card but no one seems to get it. Numerous attempts to resolve the issue were unsuccessful. I sent supporting documents to the credit card company and to Sixt USA and so far no one has contact me.The charge of $779 is still pending on my account and additional $58 has been added for late payment fees. I need HELP, after 8 months this is still an open issue. I called customer service line several times, and no one helped me. They sent me back and forth between different representatives and each time I had to again explain the whole story. The whole situation is causing me aggravation, I feel like I have been mistreated by all responsible parties. Sixt neglected to bring this never ending story to its end, and that should say something about its level of customer service. Sixt doesn't care, because if they did, this issue would have been resolved a long time ago. Why do I need to be charged twice ON THE SAME RESERVATION? Shlomo rent a car is representing Sixt in Israel. So fi Shlomo received the payment it means Sixt received it too - its the same pocket. Please HELP

  6. Mike [ September 11, 2015 @ 02:26PM ]

    I had a similar experience to the comment number 4. wiith the added insult that i was told by customeer service that i was charged a walk up rate and did not have a reservation. Yeah - i traveled from Canada to Nice, France without a reservation and just walked up to a car rental place hopping to get a car.
    and when i brought these items up with Customer service, i got the same response as the 4th poster.

  7. Betsi H Mead [ September 22, 2015 @ 07:27PM ]

    Without a doubt worst rental agency in the world. I would never rent a car from then again. I prepaid for van that was to be picked up on Dubrovnik. I made this reservation with the"help" of a Sixt agent. I made it very clear that we needed a van that would hold st last 6 people. I was assured that a van would be waiting for us in Dubrovnik. I reconfirmed the reservation prior to departure, again asking that the reservation was for a van, once again I was told a van would be waiting. We arrived at the office with a line of folks waiting to get their rental vehicle. The agent was in a heated argument with a customer and actually repeatedly called get a liar. After a fifty minute wait I was showed my rental car which was a BMW. I showed him my reservation which describes a van and the prepayment and he told me I was mistaken. He then"found" a car which was a ten person van, cancelled my reservation, charged me $400.00 dollars more and changed the drop off location! Never in the 30 years that I have rented vehicles while on vacation or for work have I run into such a unethical company. Never, repeat never rent a car from this rental agency, they are crooks!

  8. Beth Smith [ December 28, 2016 @ 06:06PM ]

    I think the main problem starts at its head quarters. I went in to solve a problem at the Fort Lauderdale head quarters I was in shock it looked like a youth center full of young adults not over the age of 25 so to understand the main problem is that they do not have the experience of customer service or sales it looked like a beauty pageant office. Also the recruitment team is completely unexperienced in the field of hiring the main problem starts from inside that is why there is alot of complaints.

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