In the past, renting a car usually required waiting in a potentially slow line before you could get your keys and drive off, and then another potentially slow line when it came time to drop off your ride. For many customers, the delays and stress have gotten so bad that other transportation options have been eating into this market.
Now, however, rental companies have begun fighting back with apps that let you skip the lines, choose your vehicle, update or cancel reservations, extend a rental, get an upgrade, return your car, and change your return location, all without having to wait in a queue and potentially miss your next flight, bus, or rickshaw.
Ordinarily, to make this system work, car rental companies have to attach special equipment to each car, which can be an expensive and time-consuming process. As it turns out, though, many newer Ford cars have the needed technology built into their cars, and Avis announced today that it's partnering with Ford to rapidly connect its vehicles to Avis's fleet and its app (Android, iOS)
According to the press release, Avis plans to have 10,000 Ford vehicles connected by the end of 2018, and a total of 35,000 by summer 2019. Avis chief innovation officer Arthur Orduña says that the company already has 100,000 connected vehicles in its fleet, and it intends to connect all of them by 2020.
Ford's vehicles can send "telemetry data in real time, including odometer, fuel level and vehicle condition updates, allowing Avis Budget Group fleet managers to process information they need to more quickly prepare vehicles for customers."
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Ford sends this data to a company called Autonomic, which operates a service called the Transportation Mobility Cloud, or TMC, "an open platform that securely manages information flow to and from vehicles' embedded modems."
What about other car manufacturers?
As we reported this summer, Ford rival General Motors is working on a program that competes directly with rental services like Avis. With GM's "Maven" initiative, you rent a car directly from individual car owners. The idea is that the owner can eventually make back the money on their purchase by renting out their vehicle. The renter uses a keyless access system to obtain the car, so the owner doesn't have to arrange for a rendezvous.
Maven began testing in Chicago, Detroit, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, and it recently expanded to Baltimore; Boston; Jersey City, New Jersey; Los Angeles; San Francisco; and Washington, DC.
- The Avis car rental service has announced that it's adding 10,000 Ford vehicles to its "connected" app by the end of the year, with 35,000 planned in total by summer 2019.
- With this app, you can do pretty much all of your car rental without waiting in a line, saving everyone time and energy.
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