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Audi Doesn't Want to Fall Behind, Plans to Buy Car-Rental Startup

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【Summary】With the majority of automakers and companies looking for ways to provide drivers with a way of getting around owning a vehicle, Audi looks to entry the fray by purchasing Silvercar, a luxury car-rental startup.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Apr 06, 2017 12:15 PM PT
Audi Doesn't Want to Fall Behind, Plans to Buy Car-Rental Startup

Companies and automakers continually try to one-up another when it comes to new technology or services. Two major trends currently spreading throughout the industry include autonomous technology and car-renting services. Audi's already working on its driverless technology, which the automaker is pursuing by opening a self-driving tech division called "Autonomous Intelligent Driving." And now, the automaker is looking to expand into the car-renting segment by purchasing Silvercar. 

Audi Enters The Popular Segment

According to a report by Automotive News, Audi has plans to purchase Silvercar, a U.S.-based startup that rents luxury vehicles to users. Currently, Silvercar offers 2017 Audi A4 sedans to users in 15 locations in the U.S., including San Francisco, New York, Austin, Texas, and Chicago. 

The process to obtain an A4 is quite simple and similar to other ride-sharing services. Drivers are required to download the Silvercar app, reserve an A4, unlock the vehicle using the app, drive the car for the amount of time it was rented for, and then return the vehicle to a predetermined location.  

According to a press release from Audi, the automaker believes the purchase will help strengthen its mobility services in the ever-changing automotive market. The decision also makes a lot of sense for the German automaker, as it's been working with Silvercar since 2012 and participated in a $28-million Series C investment in the company in 2015. 

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

Luke Schneider, CEO of Silvercar, took to the company's blog to share his excitement about the news. "The fact that Audi has taken the next step to solidify this relationship is a direct result of the support of our customers, the hard work of every single employee and the backing of our investors," Schneider wrote in a blog post. 

German Automakers Lead The Way

When it comes to German automakers and mobility services, Audi is currently playing catch-up. Volkswagen, as Automotive News points out, acquired a stake in the taxi-ordering app Gett and launched Moia, its own mobility division as well. Mercedes-Benz, courtesy of Daimler, has its own car-renting service, Car2go, which provides users access to its vehicles. 

BMW also has its own car-renting company, ReachNow, that allows users to borrow one of BMW's electric vehicles in the form of the i3, a 328xi, or one of three offerings from Mini. 

Between ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft and now car-renting services like ReachNow, Car2go, and, now Audi's, Silvercar, drivers living in congested cities no longer have to own a vehicle and can get around by using one of the numerous apps that's at their fingertips.

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