Silvercar by Audi is one of my favorite car rental companies. As the name suggests, Silvercar exclusively rents Audi vehicles, so they’re significantly nicer than the typical rental cars you’ll find in the US. The company also does a good job using technology to make the rental experience better.
Silvercar charges a reasonable premium over other car rental companies for what’s offered, in my opinion. The major downside to Silvercar has been the lack of locations.
Well, a reader pointed out an interesting strategy shift for Silvercar that I wasn’t aware of…
Silvercar now renting from Audi dealerships
Silvercar has quietly expanded to 34 locations. Previously Silvercar had mostly airport locations, with a few in-town locations. 11 locations have recently been added, all at Audi dealerships.
I suppose this is a logical way to add locations:
- In 2017 it was announced that Audi would acquire Silvercar
- Running a rental facility at an Audi dealership is presumably much cheaper than running an independent facility, since the space and staffing required are marginal
- It could be a good sales opportunity — if people enjoyed their rental, maybe they’ll want to look at buying or leasing a car
- Nowadays we’re seeing more people take road trips rather than fly, meaning that in-town locations make more sense than in the past
It looks like Silvercar subtly started promoting this concept earlier in the summer, claiming it has transitioned to “more convenient local rentals.” It’s suggested that this allows for more parking and same day rentals. While it’s not explicitly mentioned, it appears that that this “local rentals” concept refers to cars being available at Audi dealerships.
Keep it local. We've transitioned Silvercar by Audi facilities to offer safe and convenient LOCAL rental. Take that road trip first class, and get 10% off this summer on local rentals with MYBACKYARD.https://t.co/JefjAycR3t pic.twitter.com/Tjhd04w5G6
— Silvercar by Audi (@silvercarbyaudi) June 24, 2020
Silvercar closing some airport locations
You’d think this is an entirely positive development, given that Silvercar is just adding locations. Well, that’s not entirely the case. Reader Russell had a rental at the Silvercar location at Tampa International Airport, and was informed that location is closing:
Effective October 4, Silvercar by Audi is relocating our operations from our current airport facility to Audi Wesley Chapel, FL. Since your reservation falls beyond the transition date and the dealerships are located approx. 40 minutes from the airport, we are regrettably CANCELLING your upcoming reservation.
The location here is funny for me, since I grew up in Wesley Chapel and always flew out of Tampa, and the two are nowhere near one another. It’s unfortunate to see the airport location closing, since renting out of Wesley Chapel isn’t really an alternative for someone visiting the Tampa Bay Area.
Now that I do some rental searches, it appears that Tampa isn’t the only city where airport locations are closing. Silvercar airport locations in Charlotte, Orlando, San Diego, and Tampa, are all no longer accepting bookings. So it looks like at least in four cities, Silvercar is transitioning locations exclusively to car dealerships.
Silvercar is now renting cars from nearly a dozen Audi dealerships around the US, which is a logical move. Audi owns Silvercar, and it’s efficient to use existing facilities for renting cars.
That being said, in the process it sounds like some airport locations are closing as well. With air travel way down, I guess that’s not too surprising. Only time will tell whether Silvercar returns to airport locations, or if the company will continue moving in this direction.
What do you make of Silvercar’s transition from airports to car dealerships?
(Tip of the hat to Russell)