Silvercar Moves From Airports To Audi Dealerships

Filed Under: Rental Cars

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.

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.

Bottom line

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)

Comments
  1. “We’ve transitioned Silvercar by Audi facilities to offer safe and convenient LOCAL rental.” Convenient? There is nothing more convenient than picking up your car at the airport terminal. Silvercar was always a pain to get into and now will become even worst. How many US airports have Audi dealers “conveniently” located close by?

  2. I used to use them al the time at LAX when they shared a shuttle bus with the adjacent parking garage. When they moved locations and started calling you a Lyft for pick-up, it became more of a hassle but I stuck with them. Unfortunately, once LAX switched to the off site lot for rideshare pickups, it simply became out of the question– no way I was going to take a bus to a lot to then wait for a Lyft… just to pick up a rental car.

  3. I didn’t realize they were doing this. Three locations in NYC, and they deliver the car to you. I will definitely explore this option vs Sixt next time I rent…

  4. Audi bought a lousy business, and now they’re trying to reduce their losses at a time when US flight traffic is ~30% of normal.

  5. Every blogger seems to love Silver Car….many of the rest of us, not so much. Have used two of the NYC locations and service varied between indifferent to laughably bad. If you can manage to plan more than 72 hours in advance, there are multiple options for better pricing for similar cars at traditional car rentals. Have used MIA and LAX as well in the past. Overpriced. They tried but not a great customer experience. This is a newish idea that should just go away. Real audience (city-based renter that is completely indifferent to both price and service) does exist but airport model ever made sense.

  6. So basically the service is being shut down. Having the rental option out of a dealership is nothing new and this is just putting a new label on it. It has nothing to do with a car rental company at an airport in my understanding.
    I am guessing that due to the almost complete collapse of the car rental industry during COVID-19 crisis, Audi has made the decision to effectively shut the service down.

  7. Why would this be a positive change? “It could be a good sales opportunity — if people enjoyed their rental, maybe they’ll want to look at buying or leasing a car” is exactly why it’s bad for renters. Imagine getting off a transco flight and you pickup your car at the dealership and get inundated with sales pitch and you just want to get your car and move one as quickly as possible. I don’t care what Audi says, it will happen. I can’t even get through a service appointment for my brand new car without getting hassled if I want to trade in my brand new car for another model. Is there anyone here thinks that renting an Audi is worth all the hassle?

  8. Sad news, to me.
    We recently rented at the MCO location. We had some hiccoughs but Ronny, who helped us initially, was top notch in making sure we were taken care of.
    The cost of the rental was in-line with the other sites I browsed for comparable vehicles. All in all, it was a good experience. (While still at the airport location)

  9. So bummed as I sort of realized this yesterday when I was looking to make my first Silvercar booking in SD and nothing was available after a certain date.

  10. I considered user Silvercar in the past in Las Vegas, but their NON-7×24 hours at the LAS Airport made that a non-starter. If you’re flying in and there’s any sort of flight hiccup that causes you to arrive late enough that Silvercar is closed, you’re SCREWED. Perhaps I’ll take another look at Sixt in the future, but as an “off-airport” rental operation, they may have the exact same problem. Travel planning is hard enough in the present (Covid) environment without having to deal with Flakiness on the part of Rental agencies. The (100% reliable if not cheap) solution used to be Hertz, but with their Bankruptcy, that may no longer be the case. I have a snaking suspicion that, for trips involving Flying and Renting a car, the current environment, probably means restricting yourself to the first (early) flight of the day in both directions so that you can combat restricted rental hours, etc. Even then, any air travel hiccup can screw you up. What A Pain.

  11. @Keyser Soze Sixt recently took over space in the main Vegas car rental center from Advantage (which is in bankruptcy), so they are no less convenient than the other major companies now.

    Currently, their hours are 8:00-22:00 (same as many others like Hertz currently) but they will probably be expanded to 24×7 once COVID-19 settles down and business picks up.

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