Silvercar’s “Uber for airport car rental” app is now available in the iOS and Google Play stores. If you’ve ever had a miserable experience with airport car rentals, I suggest checking the app out. It’s meant to make renting a car seamless, mobile and luxurious, focused primarily on the business class traveler.
But don’t expect a silver 2013 Audi A4 to be waiting for you unless you’re flying to Dallas/ Fort Worth. The company will officially open for business on January 14 in that airport with plans to launch in three to five more airports next year. The company is considering San Jose, Charlotte, Denver Nashville and San Francisco for its next target, which should be announced in the first quarter.
The Austin-based startup is launching after raising $11.5 million from Austin Ventures, CrunchFund, SV Angel, Chris Dixon, and Dave Morin in October. It’s led by CEO Luke Schneider, who has with some experience in managing fleets of vehicles as former CTO of Zipcar. It’s Co-founder and chairman Bill Diffenderffer has a little airline experience, too — he ran Skybus, the failed discount airline.
The difference between Silvercar and other car rental companies is that the process eliminates check-in lines and counters. Like Uber, payment information and personal preferences will be stored in the Silvercar app, which makes reservations simple. The car will pay for and charge tolls to the user’s account automatically and account for gas used at the average price per gallon with a $5 refilling fee.
It’s striving to be a car rental service that doesn’t gouge you with tricky fees. Silvercar enters the industry just as it consolidates into a three-company oligopoly led by Hertz, Enterprise and Avis. They have little incentive to make the process simple and easy – if you’re stuck at an airport, you don’t have much choice but to rent from them. Silvercar faces an uphill battle to disrupt those incumbents, but if they succeed, business travelers will be rejoicing.