Audi is Purchasing an Upscale Rental Service That Exclusively Uses A4s

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
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audi is purchasing an upscale rental service that exclusively uses a4s

Today’s car rental services span the gamut in terms of vehicular offerings and price, but it used to be a more utilitarian affair. Granted, the norm is still to hop online and click the little box next to economy or compact with those full-size sedans reserved for when your employer is footing the bill. However, special discounts or a base Mitsubishi Mirage occasionally make SUVs and even premium cars too tempting to pass up. For those with more discerning tastes, there are entire agencies devoted to specialty cars.

Silvercar is a rental firm that allows customers to charter an Audi A4 similarly to how you would reserve a ZipCar — log in, schedule a pickup, and remotely unlock the vehicle for as long you need access. It’s akin to BMW’s ReachNow, General Motors’ Maven, and Mercedes’ Car2Go — that latter of which is finally replacing its fleet of Smart cars with Benz-branded vehicles. But Audi doesn’t actually own Silvercar, it just happens to be a company providing the exact service that every single automaker wants to include as part of an updated mobility identity. Oh, and it exclusively rents out A4s.

Obviously, Audi is purchasing it.

“Audi and Silvercar share a vision for the future of transportation,” said Matt Carpenter, Audi of America’s chief financial officer, in a corporate announcement. “This acquisition enables Audi to move forward with a progressive partner and continue our technology leadership into the next era of mobility.’’

It’s almost like the Texas-based Silvercar saw what was going in the industry and then designed itself for the sole purpose of being acquired by Audi. If someone wants to become even richer than they already are, copy this business model with Lexus. It doesn’t even need to be a successful company; it just needs to survive long enough to be bought up.

Audi and Silvercar have had a working relationship since 2012, developing and delivering the technology that makes its car-sharing system work. In 2015, Audi even issued a $28 million Series C investment for Silvercar — helping to ripen the fruit before the German carmaker finally decided to pluck it from the vine.

“It’s no secret that Silvercar and Audi have a longstanding relationship,” Silvercar CEO Luke Schneider wrote on the company’s website. “Heck, we’ve only ever rented Audi A4s.”

No deal terms have been announced but, according to Audi, the two companies anticipate the approval of the transaction by responsible regulatory authorities soon “with the transaction concluding in the first half of 2017.”

[Image: Audi]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

Consumer advocate tracking industry trends, regulation, and the bitter-sweet nature of modern automotive tech. Research focused and gut driven.

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4 of 15 comments
  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Mar 31, 2017

    So does this relegate Audi to "fleet queen" status?

    • Jacob Jacob on Mar 31, 2017

      I wouldn't mind. After the dieselgate and the endless string of reliability scandals surrounding the VAG vehicles, I don't know why I'd buy one, either new or used. I'd rent one or lease a new one, and only if it's a killer once in a life deal.

  • Cbrworm Cbrworm on Mar 31, 2017

    As long as Audi doesn't change their business model or increase prices significantly, this is a great service. All small (midsize) rental cars should be A4's. They are a good driving, classy looking car with a decent amount of space in the cabin and trunk. It's a very functional small car that happens to be an Audi. I would pay a premium to know that I was getting an A4 every time instead of a Chrysler 200 (or similar) that may actually turn out to be a minivan or a Kia Rio, or occasionally a Dodge Durango in Manhattan. It would be interesting to know how much more (or less) an A4 depreciates over its term in the rental lot versus a standard mid-size rental car. I'm sure the cost of acquisition is higher.

    • Maymar Maymar on Mar 31, 2017

      Working in the industry, I'd also be interested to see what the accident rate is on the Audis versus a typical midsizer. There are certain models that attract a more *ahem* excitable customer than an average Camry, and are more prone to being damaged or written off (both the downtime and extra depreciation are negatives).

  • Analoggrotto Buyers are skipping these in droves and heading down to sign the golden paperwork for a new Telluride. ATPs speak volumes and we have 'em. Our customers are telling us that we offer Mercedes quality for a better deal, and our suite of luxury features rivals any luxury automaker. Insult me all you want, but AVMs, DSDs and BSODs tell the truth.
  • Ted Lulis The Exodus from California is mind-boggling. No surprise from the rectum of the country
  • Mr Imperial Seeing the adjusted-for-inflation amount always makes me sick, I can't believe how much it has gone up in my 40-some-odd trips around the sun. Still fondly remember seeing these and Ford Explorers everywhere.
  • Kyl65759578 👋
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