SilverCar – Disrupting Car Rental Business With Heavy Technology Influence
In the US, car rental is a $33 billion industry that employes 126,000 people. Car rental market is on a rise. Like flights and hotels industry, car rental too has cut-throat competition. We have traditional car rental companies like Avis, Enterprise, Hertz and car sharing companies like ZipCar (now part of Avis), Get Around.
Pretty much every business model in car rental industry seems taken. It’s a clear case of red ocean right now. Is there a room for a new player with a new offering to create a blue ocean? US based SilverCar aims to be that company with the help of technology.
SilverCar wants to re-imagine airport car rental industry with multiple differentiators. The company was launched in late 2012 with $11.5 million funding from investors – Austin Ventures, Michael Arrington’s CrunchFund, Ron Conway’s SV Angel Fund, and tech industry success-spotters Chris Dixon and Dave Morin.
The company has only one model of car to choose from – 2013 Audi A4 – in silver color. Simple. No confusions on which model to choose from and various pricing models.
This premium service is targeted towards business travelers who are technology savvy.
SilverCar leverages web, mobile and wireless technologies to make the entire car rental experience smoother. Customers can reserve a car using SilverCar’s mobile app (iPhone / Android). Once the reservation is complete, travelers can walk straight to SilverCar’s rental section in airport to pick up their car – this means that travelers no more have to wait in queues to rent an airport taxi.
Once a traveler approaches SilverCar’s section in airport, they can simply scan their mobile reservation (QR code) on the glass window of Audi, the car automatically unlocks (and the key is kept inside the car) when the reservation code matches.
Also, the traveler’s itinerary details are automatically synched with the Audi’s dash so that user do not have to key in the destination details. The traveler also enjoys a wifi-hotspot internet (FREE) inside the car.
SilverCar is on cloud. What we mean by that is – a traveler while dropping off the car do not have to worry about filling half / full tank of gas, since the car is connected over cloud the centralized system knows the current level of fuel in the car and it automatically charges the user for the extra amount of fuel (in case) according to that day’s gas price.
Apart from reserving the car over mobile app, SilverCar also has placed iPads in their parking section in airport to make the reservation with less human intervention.
The company has launched its first service in Dallas (DFW) airport effective Jan 14th 2013. SilverCar says more airport locations will be added soon.
We checked the price of SilverCar rental and found to be pretty competitive, for example a day long rental is $115. Comparing this to Indian car rental industry, for couple of hours of renting an Audi A4 in India, it would cost Rs 7,500 ($150).
SilverCar is clearly entering the blue ocean in car rental industry. By offering a single model car (Audi A4) for rental, the company gives out the message that their focus is like a laser beam. What we really liked in SilverCar is the clever use of technology in every stage of car rental experience to eliminate glitches.