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.
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 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
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)