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Avis Starts Program For Used Rental Car Purchases

PARSIPPANY, N.J. (AP) â¿¿ Avis Budget Group Inc. and AutoNation Inc. have launched a new program called the Ultimate Test Drive for selling more than 75 models of used Avis and Budget rental vehicles.

As consumers have limited their spending in response to uncertain economic conditions and persistently high unemployment, many have forgone buying new vehicles in favor of used cars to save money.

Michael Schmidt, senior vice president of fleet services for Avis Budget Group, said in a statement that Avis has generally sold its used vehicles at wholesale in the past.

The company said the new program is operating in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida and Nevada. More states will be added in coming months.

Interested shoppers can sign up to test-drive a vehicle on the Avis or Budget websites. AutoNation Direct representatives will help consumers with financing, trade-ins, warranties and related services.

A two-hour test drive is free. Or consumers can pay to drive a car for up to three days. If they wind up buying a car through the program, the fee will be refunded.

Last month, Avis reported a first-quarter loss as its costs for debt and acquisition-related expenses rose faster than its revenue, but its adjusted profit beat Wall Street's expectations.

Shares of Avis, which is based in Parsippany, N.J., fell 3 cents to $14.92 Wednesday afternoon.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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