First Car Rental – a proudly South African success story


With compound profit growth of 25% recorded over the last six years, First Car Rental, a subsidiary of the vehicle retail group Combined Motor Holdings (CMH), has performed exceptionally well in an extremely competitive environment.


Established 15 years ago, the company now employs 450 people with over 1 200 years of combined experience within First Car Rental. Its fleet ranges from no-frills models to top-of-the-range luxury cars from a wide range of vehicle manufacturers.

“Since the rebrand from National Alamo to First Car Rental in April 2008, the First Car Rental brand has grown significantly to become the largest car rental company in South Africa not linked to an international brand”, says managing director, Bruce Barritt.

Currently, the the noticeable ‘purple’ car rental brand operates out of 47 branches nationwide, including outlets at major South African airports, business and tourist destinations, and has a fleet of over 6 000 vehicles countrywide. Customers are also able to hire cars in over 100 countries at 4 500 locations worldwide due to its service agreement with Sixt Rent a Car. Sixt is Germany’s and Europe’s largest car hire company.

First Car Rental is now recognised as one of the top car rental companies in the country having been selected, for the fourth consecutive year, as one of South Africa’s Top 500 Best Managed Companies. Top 500 recognises the crème de la crème of businesses in South Africa, identifying the most successful companies from each of the 100 business sectors, says Barritt,

For the past two years First Car Rental has won the South African Service Award in the Travel and Related Services sector, defeating all major South African car hire competitors. To top this, First Car Rental was also awarded the ‘Most Consistent Performer over 3 Years’, competing against all brands across all industries. The company achieved an overall customer service rating average of over 88% for the past three years, making it the most customer-centric company in the country.

First Car Rental has introduced high-tech, customer-friendly ‘First in Industry’ applications into the marketplace such as its state-of-the-art web-based reservations system which allows customers to book a vehicle with just 3 clicks in less than 30 seconds. It is also the first car rental company to create and successfully roll out a mobile check-out facility, aimed at the corporate sector. Called “Show&Go”, it facilitates the rapid collection of hired vehciles, and complements the company’s stated aim of delivering an exceptional level of service.

Barritt reports that the company has won numerous ACSA Feather awards over the past decade for exceptional service at its airport branches.

In keeping with its culture of service delivery and what they refer to as “support with a purple heart”, First Car Rental has also been involved in various CSI projects and initiatives, including the on-going ‘Rhinos1st’ campaign for The Rhino Orphanage, donating cars to special children’s homes supported by M-Net Cares, providing transport to students with disabilities at the University of the Free State (UFS) and sponsoring Teachers Without Borders.
“Being a proudly South African company we are obviously elated with First Car Rental’s results,” says Barritt. “While we are well aware of the competitive environment in which we operate, we are committed to continuing this growth pattern and adding further value to the CMH group and its shareholders.”