When it comes to renting a car, you're not settling for a minivan or subcompact economy special. You want reliability, comfort, and some zing under the hood to make those S curves extra exhilarating along with the views. After sitting on a plane for hours with your legs folded up like pretzels and a debilitating case of jet lag, the last thing you want is to wait in line for a sales pitch designed to get your signature on additional insurance coverage for a vehicle you really don't want.
Now in 10 airports across the USA and growing, Silvercar is an oasis in a sea of typical car rental hassles. "The airport car rental industry hasn’t innovated in 40 years", says Silvercar CEO Luke Schneider. "We thought we should do away with counters, lines, and move it all to a mobile device eliminating the brain damage usually involved with getting to your car.”
All Silvercars are identical and that's a good thing. Each one is a fully-loaded silver Audi A4 with free in-car Wi-Fi, in-dash GPS, Sirius Radio, roadside assistance, and toll tracking at rates ranging between $59-89 per day depending on the location, day, and demand. And get this, if you don’t have time to fill the tank before returning it, Silver Car simply charges at-the-pump prices along with a $5 convenience fee.
There's a reason why all Silvercar locations are off airport grounds. The car rental industry is essentially monopolized by three major companies as well as CONRAC (Consolidated Rental Car Facility) leases. This means car rental counters at every airport in the United States operate on a leased parcel of municipal property. Getting one of these parcels requires well cultivated relationships with regulatory agencies that hand out the limited number of leases as they become available.
Schneider's response was Silvercar's technology, built from the ground up. He personally took apart the very first car in his garage, wired it up, and synched mobile with all the vehicle's user controlled features such as driver’s seat position via the cloud. Your reservation begins with downloading Silvercar's app (iPhone and Android) that tracks and manages the entire experience from booking to return. It even unlocks your car. When you're ready to be picked up at the airport, hit "Pick Me Up" in the app summoning your Silvercar concierge, who can also orient you with the car before hitting the road.
An additional bonus is you get the pleasure of a brand new silver Audi A4 to cruise around in making it a distinct possibility that your journey will be more fun than actually reaching your destination.
Photos: Silvercar/Steve Mirsky. Coverage made possible by participating in a sponsored trial.