There are a lot of different ways to market a car. Television advertisement spots, product placement in film, or banners streaming across the top of your favorite Cheat Sheet article all bring in some reward, but nothing quite sells a car like a test drive. The immersion of one’s senses and driving preferences while behind the wheel of a new car has the ability to make or break a sale. If it looks, feels, drives, and sounds good, chances are someone will want to buy it. Hell, the power of that “new car smell” alone remains an all-time favorite aroma for many people, an experience that can only be perceived if one is placed within the confines of a car’s cabin.
But most Americans hate going to the dealership, since the public’s perception of the entire auto buying experience remains sub-par at best. Be that as it may, most people fail to remember that there’s another way in which they can get behind the wheel of a brand new car and test it out. It’s called “the rental,” and we’re not just talking about economy clunkers anymore.
Audi makes for a perfect example. Its latest announcement says that it plans to invest in tech-savvy automotive rental specialists Silvercar. For years, the Audi A4 has been the staple of all Silvercar rentals, and with its downloadable app offering customers control over the entire experience, you can see why this company is proving to be so profitable. Skip the concierge if you want, drive where you need to in class and style, and upon return pay only for the gas you used. All of these things are examples of why the wildly successful Silvercar recently unveiled enhanced digital and mobile platforms in the hopes of roping in more potential customers via an optimized user experience, as it prepares to expand into the greater Las Vegas area, its 12th market in the U.S.
This fresh funding from Audi and Series B investors will allow Silvercar to improve on its award-winning airport car rental business and then expand to new markets nationwide while Audi retains exclusivity as the only vehicle of choice for anyone looking for a vehicle in the lineup. Part of the next phase of the Silvercar partnership with Audi includes something called “Audi Shared Fleet,” a turnkey solution for businesses looking to provide accessible transportation to their employees on corporate campuses. In its press release, Audi explains that this investment “fits within its strategy to explore new and successful mobility business models as the nature of personal transportation continues to evolve worldwide.”
But let’s not lose sight of what Audi truly is getting out of this. Shared mobility is only going to rise as urban living continues to become more popular, and suburban sprawls dry up. Younger drivers don’t always need a car to function, and when they do, it’s typically not for elongated periods of time. Nevertheless, people still like owning cars too, and Audi has set itself up for a tidy win since many potential car buyers who travel for work have the income to afford a new luxury sedan. If you have a rental for the weekend that kicks ass in every way, chances are you will likely remember it, and with a bit of luck Audi might see a sale down the line when you return home.
“Audi’s confidence in Silvercar allows us to extend our reach even further, and bring forth the concept of shared mobility into many more markets, applications and product offerings,” says Silvercar CEO Luke Schneider. “It is our goal to accelerate the expansion of our successful airport business in order to integrate these new mobility products into the market as soon as possible.”
Riding high after a record setting year in 2015, Silvercar has seen its business triple, and in the past six months alone the company has opened markets in Las Vegas, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, and New York City. The company has been doing things so well, that last month the World Travel Awards recognized Silvercar for its outstanding customer satisfaction ratings and loyalty scores, which to this day remain the highest in the industry, ultimately earning Silvercar the title as “North America’s Leading Car Rental Company.”
“Silvercar represents not just the future of the car rental industry, but a vision for the future of mobility,” Audi of America President Scott Keogh said. “We want to utilize the company’s strengths in technology and innovation to merge connectivity and mobility for today’s consumer.”
This is a very valid point that illustrates how rapidly the automotive market is changing, as well as Audi’s willingness to evolve right along with it. So before you book that next flight, take a moment to see if there is a Silvercar waiting for you at your destination, and maybe try out the best car rental company around to see what all the fuss is about. Chances are high that you will get to drive a really nice slice of German engineering, and perhaps when you get home it will inspire you to see what the local dealership has in stock for 2016.