Audi's luxury car-rental service is making a big change that customers will love
- The Audi-only car rental service Silvercar is adding the brand's Q5 SUV to its fleet.
- Previously, the service only offered Audi A4 sedans.
- The company plans to expand to five new locations in 2018, including San Diego, Washington, DC, and Salt Lake City.
Silvercar, the Audi-only car rental service acquired by Audi in 2017, is adding the brand's Q5 SUV to its fleet. Previously, the service only offered A4 sedans, but it decided to add the SUV, which received a 2018 Best Auto Tech Award from Kelley Blue Book, because of requests from its users.
"We definitely heard them ask for a larger vehicle over time, and so we decided to listen," Silvercar president and COO Chris Donus told Business Insider in a phone interview.
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Donus divided Silvercar's users into two camps: business and leisure travelers, and while an SUV might be a more obvious fit for families who need to transport equipment for outdoor activities like skiing and surfing, Donus said the Q5 could also appeal to business travelers who need more room for colleagues and clients.
But the number-one request the company receives from users is to expand to more locations. The company plans to open in five new locations in the first half of 2018, including Salt Lake City (which opened on Monday), San Diego, and Washington, DC.
"The bulk of our people are not renting us in one location and one location only. They are renting in multiple locations and spreading out across the country," Donus said. "How can we take up more and more of their transportation usage and be a more consistent provider to them?"
Silvercar's plans align with a trend Donus has noticed away from car ownership toward subscription and rental-based models that give customers more flexibility. The key for a mobility company to succeed in this changing landscape is to "make themselves stickier" and give customers as many points of access as possible, according to Donus. That's why, in addition to operating out of airports, hotels, and downtown hubs, Silvercar has developed Dealerware, software that is used by car dealerships to make it easier for them to loan cars to customers whose vehicles are being serviced.
"We think you're going to see more subscription and access-based models across the board, because they offer the flexibility that consumers want without having to have the one-to-one ownership of owning a depreciating asset," Donus said.
While Silvercar has sold the software to dealerships and brands outside of the Volkswagen family to manage their fleets, including Jaguar Land Rover, Donus said the company has no plans to add different brands to its rental offerings.
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