Silvercar Closing All Airport Locations, Moving 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, unfortunately it looks like Silvercar will soon more or less cease to exist in its current form, as it closes down all airport locations.

Silvercar started renting from Audi dealerships

As of now, Silvercar claims to be available in 34 locations, which is way more than it had before — previously Silvercar had mostly airport locations, with a few in-town locations. 11 locations have recently been added, all at Audi dealerships.

On the surface this seemed like a logical way to add locations (well, before the other shoe dropped):

  • 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 over the summer, claiming it had 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 this “local rentals” concept refers to cars being available at Audi dealerships.

Silvercar closing all airport locations

Several weeks ago I wrote about how it looked like Silvercar was starting to close some airport locations. At the time, five airport locations were closing imminently. Well, the situation is much worse than that.

As reported by AutoSlash, Silvercar will be closing all airport locations as of early December 2020. The pandemic is being blamed for this decision, but it also sounds like we should expect this to be a permanent change:

  • As Audi opens more dealerships there will be more locations from which to rent with Silvercar
  • At some locations Silvercar may pay for your Lyft ride to get to an Audi dealership, but only in situations where it’s near the airport

Bottom line

Over the summer, Silvercar started renting cars from nearly a dozen Audi dealerships around the US, which seemed like a logical move. Audi owns Silvercar, and it’s efficient to use existing facilities for renting cars.

However, now the full extent of the changes have been revealed — Silvercar is closing all airport locations as of early December. The pandemic is being blamed for this, though it sounds like this could very well be permanent.

What a shame, because it sounds like this is the end of Silvercar in its current form.

What do you make of Silvercar’s transition from airports to car dealerships?

(Tip of the hat to Jonathan & 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.

  12. I had a Tampa reservation cancel on me. I used this location for local rental a number of times a year for 7-10 day rentals. Wesley Chapel is just conveniently located.

  13. It has been reported that Silvercar at LAX is closing as well. A few people have gotten emails about their upcoming LAX reservations being cancelled.

  14. UPDATE — All Silvercar airport locations closing down:

    ​​​​​​​https://www.autoslash.com/blog-and-tips/posts/silvercar-shutting-down

  15. I love Silvercar but most of their airport locations had become a PIA. I see this as making lemonade in bad travel times. It’s lucky that Audi brought them or they would be shutting up shop. Besides if travel recovers they can always rent new near by space or inside airport space and move back into major airport markets.

  16. This system is DOA for me due to Covid19. I am not going to get into another occupied vehicle jst to get to my rental.
    If Covid19 were not an issue this might work, My main travel destination in the USA is MIA and taking a Lyft to my car would be way better than the long walk (AC always broken, thanks MIA) crowded peoplemover and walk again.
    The staffing mathematics is brilliantly better. The previous setup had single staff members waiting for a call to deliver cars and if two calls happened at once the second call would be left waiting.

  17. This is 99% bad news. Probably only a few smaller city airports are close to an Audi dealer. Large airports, like JFK or DEN, are almost certainly far from auto row. Not only air travelers but this might encourage Audi dealers to end free loaners. If not, then Silvercar will be the very first niche local car rental company.

    I presume they are closing even city locations, like San Francisco and NYC, which would signal a retreat out of the car rental business for the most part.

    This is the end of the joke, telling the employee “I’m returning the rental car, it’s in front, it’s the silver Audi.”

  18. As someone wrote on 9/20:

    “ Audi bought a lousy business, and now they’re trying to reduce their losses”

  19. Hmmm my DEN airport reservation is still active for NYE (driving to vail). Maybe they automatically switched it to the dealer?

  20. @Lisfranc – always a possibility. The dealer listed on the Silvercar homepage is ~30 minutes from DEN, so it’s plausible. Push for them to meet you at the airport, fee free!!!!! Let us know how that works out, regardless how it all goes down! Thanks!

  21. I have to be close to being the single most frequent renter at Silver Car (45+ rentals/year in MIA, FLL, and ORD). I’m surprised by the negative comments. My experience included excellent service on most occasions, especially when compared to the indifferent-to-outright-dismissive service at Hertz, etc. Sure, there were some stinkers, which was about what I expect from many services. SilverCar was the only service I have ever used which allowed pick-up and return of vehicles after-hours in super-convenient scenarios (including the “after closing time” pick up others said didn’t happen). Sorry to see the retrenchment or whatever one wants to call closing all convenient locations.

  22. It would appear that the closures are affecting their in-town locations as well. Just had my reservation for pickup at the San Francisco – Union Square location cancelled due to permanent closure in December. Nearest Silvercar location is now a dealership in San Jose, which is about 50 miles away. Doesn’t make sense as a local renter or for anyone flying into SFO to take a Lyft that far.

  23. Thanks @Jake. We’ve updated our post to reflect the San Fran closure, and in the process, we also discovered that the Williamsburg, Brooklyn location is closing as well.

  24. This is very sad news. I can’t see any convenience when renting from a dealership when they close earlier/open later than airport car rental companies. Meanwhile I just took my car in for service last week at an Audi dealership and to my surprise, the loaner car is now rented by Enterprise inside the Audi dealership whereas it used to be operated by the service department. This Enterprise only rents Audi and Audi pays the bill for the loaner. The Audi car fleet for loaner is probably provided by Enterprise because the cars they offered have out of state plates and didn’t have all the bells and whistles that past loaners had.

  25. Bummer I just used them in Denver. Was very smooth transaction, nice vehicle as well. No issues at all. If they do keep it, I would hope they pick you up at the airport as downtown Denver Audi is 30-40 mins away.

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