In years past, you would get off a plane and immediately head to the rental car counter. You would find something that would get you from Point A to Point B, even if only for two days because a taxi was “simply too expensive.”
But the days of rental cars being the only form of vacation transportation are over. Now companies like Uber and Lyft are changing the game and making a commute to a hotel or business meeting ultimately affordable and astronomically more efficient. Rental car companies have been shedding cars like pounds on the Biggest Loser as a result of lower numbers.
So how do the rental car companies keep up? Logistics and artificial intelligence.
Hertz has now partnered with Apple to provide the tech to create automated driving technology in the next few years. The partnering of tech and car rental may seem silly, but in actuality, it could make business travel more efficient, if they can keep it affordable.
Affordability will be the way to truly outsmart the rideshare apps like Lyft and Uber.
“If you look into the future of autonomous driving, which I do think is eight to 10 years out…no matter what, you have to be really great at managing a fleet and you have to have the assets that make you really great at managing a fleet,” said Kathryn V. Marinello, CEO of Hertz. “And the good news for us is, the better we are around doing that and the more time and money we spend to invest in that, not only do we create enormous goodness within our current business, but it really does position you for winning down in the future.”
But ultimately, autonomous technology won’t save the rental companies on its own., however, it does show the companies in a light that they are moving forward with technology and looking towards the future. They’re going to have to step up a lot of things to stay afloat in the ever-growing automotive industry.
Larry De Shon, Avis Budget Group’s CEO and chief operating officer, said that; “We’ll be doing interior cleaning, exterior cleaning, oil changes, managing defective parts for them, replacing parts and so forth, storage of the vehicles, protecting the vehicles, and a host of other things,” he said. “And as that partnership hopefully grows, we’re certainly open to discussing anything else from a fleet management perspective that they would like for us to do. And we’re also taking a look at other opportunities to provide fleet management as a service going forward.”
Overall, rental car companies are sinking, that’s simply the truth. But their partnerships with tech companies could mean that they are on the rise. Ultimately, it comes down to efficiency. If automated technology can prove to be more affordable, as well as get people where they need to go, when they need to be there, then the rental car companies may be moving towards the light at the end of the tunnel. However, they need to get their logistics in order before moving into new and uncharted space.