Avis confirmed in March that it has suspended WeDriveU operations in Miami-Dade County, according to a news report posted on www.LCTMag.com, a chauffered transportation industry Web site published by Bobit Business Media.
Miami-Dade County had become a national focal point for the Avis chauffeured drive model, which, according to the report, does not adhere to the rules and regulations required of chauffeured transportation operators of luxury vehicles.
Because Avis is not classified as a limousine operator, it is not required to license its chauffeurs or meet the stricter insurance, training, certifications and safety requirements of the limousine and chauffeured transportation industry. As a result, Avis could pay less for licensing and labor.
Undermining the Business Model
Limo operators contend that Avis WeDriveU had the potential to seriously undermine the longstanding business model of chauffeured transportation operators and thereby radically remake the industry.
The Miami-Dade County Consumer Services Department ruled that Avis would have to follow county ordinances that require permits, fees, licenses, safety and background checks, and other regulations that apply to luxury chauffeured vehicles, said Ron Sorci, president of the National Limousine Association (NLA) and CFO of Miami-based Aventura Worldwide Transportation.
Avis avoided these rules because it had formed two separate companies — one for its chauffeured rental vehicles, and another one for its chauffeur service.
Officials also determined that Avis was violating its concessions agreement with the Miami International Airport. As a result, the Consumer Services Department received a letter from an Avis attorney confirming that the car rental agency had ceased its chauffeured service in the county, Sorci said.
Avis also is supposed to pull any WeDriveU advertisements in the county.
Sorci said the decision has national implications for the industry. “The same arguments we made in Dade County are the same arguments you can make in other counties throughout the U.S.”
Preemptive Action Taken in Other Cities
In April, regulators in Houston and Philadelphia have indicated that WeDriveU’s rental car and driver services business model fails to meet the standard definitions and rules that apply to luxury-based chauffeured transportation.