Audi already has a minority stake of the company Silvercar since last year during a series C funding round, where the automaker invested $28 million. However, the auto giant, has now offered to purchase the US car rental service. Their intentions are to expand their presence in mobility services and use the start-up's expertise on car sharing. Silvercar, was founded in 2012, is a car rental service which fills their fleets exclusively with Audi A4 models. Since its founding, the company has expanded to a total of 15 US cities. The company is based out of Texas and has raised over $60 million in funding so far.
The service Silvercar provides allows their customers to skip the desk work commonly at car rental agencies and allows them to book a car rental using their app. At pick up, customers will go straight to the Silvercar facility, located near an airport, scan the car with their phone and the car unlocks and they are good to drive off. Audi already has their own mobile car rental app called Audi on Demand, where customers can arrange a car rental and have it delivered to their door step. However the app is only available in San Francisco and Munich currently. Acquiring the 150 Silvercar employees and their intellectual property will only help speed their expansion process.
"Audi and Silvercar share the same vision," Dietmar Voggenreiter, a board member for sales and marketing at Audi said in a press release. "We want to open up a new, flexible way to access mobility for our customers while offering premium quality in every respect. Now we are joining forces and, together, are driving our initiative for innovative mobility services forward. Acquisition of Silvercar is not a surprise move according to industry experts. Many auto manufacturers are currently looking towards starting or expanding their own ride-hailing, car-sharing and apps, in order to compete with the growing market for those services led by Silicon Valley. Personal car ownership is expected to fall over the next few decades as owning a vehicle has too many costs which outweigh the benefits. For those who live in cities, the reason is very clear. The distance needed to travel on a daily commute can easily be accomplished by public transit and the only use for a personal vehicle is only required for errands or social calls. The lack of need for a personal vehicle has seen ride-hailing and car-sharing blossom in cities. The deal is expected to be finalized and closed out by the first half of 2017.