Europcar: Opticar- Forcasting, Simulation, and Optimization for Vehicle Rental

The car rental industry is one of the most complex businesses from a revenue and logistics management point of view. It is highly dynamic, operating in a competitive market, and associated with high financial risks because of the intensive requirement of asset investments.

Opticar is the decision support system used by Europcar, the leading European car rental company, to help revenue and capacity managers in their daily operations. Opticar features forecasts, discrete event simulations, and optimization techniques providing an integrated approach to demand forecasting, revenue management, and fleet and price optimization.

Opticar was designed with the collaboration of ACTOR, a math-based company with over 20 years of competence in discrete and continuous optimization, and predictive analytics, all applied in many different industries like retailers, fashion, transportation, and others.

The car rental business is a dynamic industry in a competitive market, impacted by several global and local factors such as: seasonality, weather, local events (like an expo, sporting event, and concerts), and the flow of airport passengers.

To govern such business on an international scale is a big challenge, mainly because each of the corporate countries can have a different context from the others. Furthermore, any action, relevant to the revenue and capacity management, exposes the decision makers to risks of creating a low fleet saturation (profit deterioration) or loss of business opportunity. Moreover, this challenge is also associated with high financial risks as this business requires intensive asset investment.

To face this demanding scenario, multiple decisions have to be made, impacting both the revenue management and customer satisfaction. For example, capacity managers plan for the next few months, the in-fleet and de-fleet of vehicles to/from the right geographical area.

At the same time, they define long-term contracts with car vendors establishing the number of cars to be acquired and dismissed (returned) as well as the economic conditions including penalties in case cars exceed the maximum predefined mileage. Capacity managers also make decisions about the fleet allocation; in other words, they plan the shuttling of cars (transfers) between different geographical locations to match the demand. Revenue managers, on the other hand, define the price for each car (group) and station based on rental duration and the expected market conditions, such as number of competitors or their actions. They also define promotions and stop sales in case of expected excess-demand.

Opticar supports decision makers to make the best decisions, sharing a common view of the future, anticipating critical situations. It merges multiple predictive models, combining statistical models and artificial intelligence to provide the forecast of the demand. It also features a simulation model to evaluate the uncertainty of the demand on the business and two optimization models: the fleet composition and allocation and the vehicle pricing. The former, based on a large-scale linear programming problem, is solved through an ad-hoc genetic algorithm, while vehicle pricing considers the dynamics and the advance bookings. It is based on a black-box optimization problem and solved through a global optimization heuristic.

Opticar is used by nine Corporate Europcar countries (France, Great Britain, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, New Zealand, and Australia) and its adoption by the franchisee network is currently starting. 

Despite widely different cultures and work logic, Opticar permitted a standardization of the processes, a higher level of corporate cooperation, and most importantly, higher quality of the decisions that improved the overall Europcar financial and customer service performances.



Europcar is the European leader in vehicle rental service and is also a major player in mobility markets. Active in more than 130 countries and territories, including nine subsidiaries in Europe and two in Australia and New Zealand, Europcar serves customers through an extensive vehicle rental network composed of its wholly-owned subsidiaries as well as sites operated by franchisees and partners. The group operates mainly under the Europcar® InterRent® and Ubeeqo® brand. Customer satisfaction is at the heart of the group’s mission and all of its employees; this commitment fuels the continuous development of new services. The Europcar Lab, based in Paris, was created to better grasp tomorrow’s mobility challenges through innovation and strategic investments, such as Ubeeqo, E-Car Club, or Brunel.

ACT Operations Research

ACT Operations Research (ACTOR) is a math-engineering company specialized in providing corporate decision-making software and process control solutions. Offices are located in Charlotte, NC; London, UK; and Rome, Italy. 

ACTOR’s core business is to provide solutions based on: math-optimization, artificial intelligence (AI), discrete event simulators, and predictive models. Such software technologies, combined with corporate big data, support complex business decisions and systems control. ACTOR's decision-science software platform enables “what-if” analysis as well as real-time optimization. 

ACTOR has gained over 20 years of competence in discrete and continuous optimization, predictive analytics, supply
chain and logistics. Through this expertise, applied in many different industries like retailers, fashion, transportation and others, ACTOR offers optimized solutions and revenue management technology to help clients cut costs and improve profits.