First, it was computers. Then, robots. Now, smartphones are the latest piece of technology to replace people in the workplace. How? Using only their smartphone, customers of new start-up Silvercar can reserve a car, unlock its doors, and start it, thus eliminating the need for traditional rental clerks.
Launched at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in January 2013, Silvercar provides each customer with a silver Audi A4 equipped with Internet, a GPS navigations system, and SiriusXM satellite radio for $89 per day through the week and $59 per day on weekends. Like its much larger competitors including Hertz, Avis, and Enterprise, Silvercar has an off-airport location about a mile from the terminals. Rather than shuttling its customers to the rental lot by bus, however, Silvercar picks up its clients in the German luxury sedan driven by a chauffeur.
Taking on the Big Three
Although Silvercar’s rates are a big higher than its competition, the company hopes that offering just one vehicle will give them an advantage over the Big Three who lock customers into a particular car rental type in advance and surprise them with a make and model when they arrive to pick-up their vehicle. Additionally, Silvercar also allows customers to return their rental cars on an empty tank and charges its customers the “prevailing rate” and a $5 fee to fill it up – about half the cost of what its competitors charge.
Silvercar’s location at Los Angeles International Airport will be its fifth in the United States. The company has not yet said how large it fleet will be at LAX but the plan is to continue to grow it to meet demand. Currently, Los Angeles is the second-largest car rental market in the world.