The Greek entrepreneur took on the major airlines five years ago with his successful EasyJet operation and now intends to do the same with daily rentals, an industry he labels “fat and complacent”.
Mercedes-Benz has agreed to supply Easyrentacar.com with a fleet of 4,000 A-class vehicles throughout Europe - 2,000 in the UK. The exclusive contract includes a buyback arrangement, which helps Mercedes to control residual values, while also relieving Easyrentacar.com of the need to dispose the vehicles.
Mr Haji-Ioannou, who is offering the A-class vehicles from £9 a day, has not ruled out extending the fleet, with predictions that it could eventually reach 30,000, encompassing a wide range of marques.
Attacking the rest of the rental industry as outdated and overpriced, Mr Haji-Ioannou, who has his own website (www.stelios.com), believes his approach to cutting costs and administration is the key to proving critics wrong.
The rental firm only takes bookings over the internet and many of the corporate benefits provided by rivals are stripped out, such as a courtesy bus to the firm's rental sites, but he believes that, where the price is right, the customers will follow.
Mr Haji-Ioannou said: “I pick industries where managers have been lazy about cutting costs. I try to get prices down because, although there is less money, it generates more volume.
“It is simply re-engineering the business process and taking out all the extra costs. I would advise fleets to look at the savings available and consider renting cars on the internet. “There has been outrage from other rental firms and I was accused of taking the rental industry back to the dark ages. But I am simply stripping down the business process to make money.
“There is no upper limit on the size of this rental operation and it could be threatening some of the national players within a few years.”
Easyrentacar.com has three sites - London, Glasgow and Barcelona.