"Laudamotion," will rent 50 advertising-plastered Smart cars, the small urban-oriented vehicles made by DaimlerChrysler, in Austria. 

Individual customers renting the cars will have to drive at least 30km a day in Vienna to get the cut-price deal.

Drivers doing fewer than 30 km will be charged one euro for each km they didn't cover.

Lauda said on Wednesday he hoped to reach sales of 750,000 euros ($877,000) in the first year of operation.

Laudamotion

If all goes well, he added, Laudamotion will eventually try to make 150 to 200 cars available to customers, not only in Vienna but in two other Austrian cities, Linz and Salzburg, as well as Barcelona in Spain.

Twice a Formula One champion with Ferrari, Lauda faced major difficulties coming back from a firey crash during the Mount Fuji Grand Prix in Japan in 1976.

He suffered serious burns to his head as well as lung damage from breathing toxic fumes and fell into a coma.

Six weeks later he was back on the track and remained on the circuit - without winning the championship - until 1979, when he retired.

He made a comeback in 1982 with McLaren, with whom he won a third world title.