TTG - Travel Trade Gazette
For Smarter, Better, Fairer Travel
Search
User Menu
Remember me

New to TTG?

PPA Independent Publishing Company of the Year 2019

Hello! You are viewing your 1 free guest article this week


Please log in or join now for free, immediate and unlimited access to our award-winning online content. Find out more...

Join us
Already a member? Log in here

Smartphone revolution

Smartphone revolution

Avis sales executive Lance Smith believes the future of car rental will be powered by smartphones. In a blog post written last year, he said: “In many cases, apps are already the lens through which we experience the brands we deal with and in future our every business interaction will be driven through smartphone technology. For us and our customers this means that the entire car rental experience will change. The old model of customers queuing for service at a car rental counter, then painstakingly selecting options from a checklist, is on its way out.”

Excess vehicles issue

Excess vehicles issue

Fleet management is a key issue that many car rental companies are struggling with, including an excess of vehicles that they cannot always sell (Sixt replaces its cars every six months, for example, to make sure customers always have the latest vehicles.) With increased focus on environmental concerns, plug-in cars are proving another disruptive force not to be ignored. Electric cars appeared on the market about eight years ago, and companies such as Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Hertz began introducing them to fleets not long after.


Today, Sixt offers three types of plug-and-go cars: the BMWi3, BMWi8 and the Tesla Model S. Toyota, Tesla, BMW and Mercedes are the biggest manufacturers of electric cars but there are also models such as the Leaf from Nissan and the Outlander PHEV from Mitsubishi for people to choose from and rental fleets need to reflect this. Car hire companies know they have a responsibility to help cities meet lower emissions targets but they need to balance this with reacting to consumer demand, which is no easy task.

In the self-driving seat

In the self-driving seat

The imminent arrival of self-driving cars also provides a new threat (and opportunity) for the industry. In an attempt to start future-proofing now, a number of rental companies are exploring partnerships, with Avis joining hands with Waymo and Hertz tying up with Apple, for example, to support autonomous vehicle development and maintenance.


Recognising the potential, Susan Lombardo, senior vice-president of vehicle acquisition at Enterprise Holdings, wrote in a piece for the company’s website: “Many drivers experience new automotive technologies for the first time in rental vehicles. I have no doubt that the US car rental industry will be an early adopter and will be able to help introduce autonomous driving technology to millions of consumers just as we have done with anti-lock braking, stop-start technology, hybrid electric vehicles and all of the other new technologies.”


Sixt is also monitoring the development of autonomous driving “very closely”. Alexander Sixt says: “Imagine how customers could use an app to reserve a rental vehicle that would drive up independently at the transfer point at an agreed time. Prior to the introduction of purely autonomous mobility, however, numerous technological, regulatory and ethical issues still need to be clarified by vehicle manufacturers and politicians.”


Whatever the future holds, car rental suppliers will need to have their eyes on the horizon to win the race.

Going Green: Plug-in cars on the up

Going Green: Plug-in cars on the up

Sources: EV-Volumes, UBS, Technavio, Research and Markets, Next Greencar, Platform for Electromobility, Transparency Market Research

Our Next Events

TTG Luxury Travel Awards

TTG Luxury Travel Awards

TTG New to Touring & Adventure Festival

TTG New to Touring & Adventure Festival

TTG Top 50 Travel Agencies

TTG Top 50 Travel Agencies

The Travel Industry Awards by TTG

The Travel Industry Awards by TTG

TTG - Travel Trade Gazette
For Smarter, Better, Fairer Travel
TTG Media Limited.
Place of registration: England and Wales.
Company number 08723341.
Registered address: New Bridge Street House, 30-34 New Bridge Street, London EC4V 6BJ