Car Update: Rent, Share, Borrow
Gone are the days when the biggest decision car renters faced was which color Grand Am to pick out from the endless rows lined up in an airport parking lot. New options for renting, sharing and even borrowing vehicles are creating a range of personalized possibilities for travelers to choose from, regardless of their destination. Here’s a look at the latest array of options for travel transportation.
Silvercar is leading the charge to digitize the entire car rental process, while offering a great car at the same time. With no lines, no paperwork and no counters to wait in front of, the entire rental process is now app-based. To keep things simple, they only offer one car option, a fleet of shiny new silver Audi A4s. Cars are reserved on the Silvercar app. If you’re arriving by plane, depending on your destination, Silvercar will either pick you up curbside or an airport shuttle will take you to the local facility where the app even unlocks the car for you.
The cars come loaded with Audi’s technology including Bluetooth connectivity, GPS navigation, Sirius XM satellite radio and even in-car high-speed WiFi. They also come with luxury features like a leather interior, sunroof and the legendary Audi quattro all-wheel-drive system for safety. And if you have any questions, the friendly concierge staff at each location is ready to familiarize you with your Silver Audi A4.
Rates are from $59 to $89 per day depending on the location, the day and the demand, and the company constantly offers online and social media discounts and incentives. Insurance options are clearly defined and offered at an extra charge. Silvercar has locations in eight cities around the US and also rents Audi Q5 SUVs at their Denver location during ski season. Silvercar also actively pursues and promotes referrals from existing customers, offering the existing renter and the new renter cash incentives.
Companies like Enterprise Holdings, which has been renting cars for over 50 years, are also adapting to and even enhancing new technology. The company operates Alamo Rent A Car, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental. National’s app offers features like “VIrtual Aisle” which allows counter-bypass.
Emerald Club members can conduct the entire rental transaction virtually, even seeing the real-time vehicle inventory. Renters can reserve the specific vehicle they want, then proceed directly to that vehicle on arrival. The enhanced real-time Virtual Aisle feature is available in 19 National locations in the US, but the app’s other functions are ready for Emerald Club members anywhere they rent.
For those looking for a bit more horsepower under the hood of their rental car, Hertz’s Adrenaline Collection offers a nice selection of American muscle in 19 different locations across the US. Choices – all of which deliver at least 400 horsepower – include the Ford Mustang GT, Chevrolet Camaro SS and even Corvettes.
The company doesn’t stop with American Muscle; their Hertz Dream Car rental vehicles are some of the world’s greatest rides including the latest models from Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche. Rates range from around $99 per day for the Mustang GT to $1,500 per day for a Ferrari California.
Offered at 38 locations across the US (and more internationally) Hertz Dream Car rentals come with a premium, concierge level of service that allows renters to bypass lines at the normal rental counters. The range of makes and models is quite impressive. A Porsche 911 is $450 per day, including 75 miles (with each mile over that is $0.75). A beautiful Lamborghini Gallardo Bicolore will set you back $1,200 per day, also including 75 free miles. For the Lambo, each mile above those 75 will cost you $3.00. Dream Car vehicle selection also includes top of the line models from Mercedes-Benz, such as the SLS AMG Roadster, BMW with the likes of the 650I convertible, and the Tesla Model S. Visit hertz.com/rentacar and hertzdreamcars.com to learn more.
Enterprise saw the demand for luxury vehicles and created their Exotic Car Collection back in 2006. They too feature a tempting menu of Big Block fun with selections including the Dodge Challenger SRT8, Chevrolet Camaro SS and Corvette Stingrays, coupes and convertibles. For serious luxury, complete with personalized white-glove service, Enterprise’s Exotic Car Collection offers a stable of high-end, late model sports cars, sedans and sporty sport utility vehicles.
Beyond luxury exotics from Lamborghini, Maserati and Ferrari, the well-curated collection includes more reasonable options like the BMW 528i ($129 per day) or Jaguar XF I4 ($129 per day). Even Enterprise’s normal rental fleet includes exciting, yet practical cars like the Audi A4, BMW 328i or Mercedes C250.
Enterprise also features a great selection of brand new models like the Porsche Macan ($250 per day), Maserati Ghibli ($375 per day) and Mercedes SL400 ($550 per day). Supercars like the Lamborghini Huracan go for $2,300 per day and the Ferrari California Spyder is $1,500 per day.
Exotic Car Collection renters must be at least 21 years old, with a major credit – not debit – card in their name. A deposit of $1,000 plus the total of the anticipated rental amount is authorized on the card. All vehicles include 100 free miles, each mile over that will cost $0.50 or $1.00, depending on the vehicle. If the Exotic Car Collection gets your heart pumping, you’ll find them at 21 Enterprise locations across the country in Atlanta, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and Las Vegas.
Find out more at exoticcars.enterprise.com.
For licensed motorcycle riders who want a really cool way to get around, 350 Harley-Davidson dealers around the world offer Harley Authorized Rentals. Each dealership rents a wide range of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and with airport and hotel pick-up, or free parking for regular vehicles, they make it easy to get a bike for an afternoon or for a week. Pricing ranges from around $75 per day for Sportsters to $200 a day for the larger touring models like the Road King or Electra Glide. For details visit harley-davidson.com.
If a vintage ride is more your style, there are some great options for classic wheels in the US as well as in the UK and Europe. In Los Angeles, Classics Rent a Car has a great range of cruisers including 60s Mustangs, 70s Caddys and even iconic cars like GTOs and Corvettes. The fleet includes unique vintage cars like VW Bugs and Karmann Ghias or even original Mini Coopers. They really specialize in big 60s and 70s convertible cruisers, perfect for Southern California. Most of the cars rent for $349 per day, excluding insurance. Find out more at simplyrac.com.
If you’re headed to England, Great Escape Cars can put you behind the wheel of a vintage Jaguar, MG or Rolls-Royce. Rates range from $220 per day for a little MGB droptop to $500 per day for a beautiful Jag E Type convertible. Full insurance and breakdown coverage is included in all rentals. The company has locations in the Midlands and the Cotswolds, each about a two-hour train ride from London. Get fleet and rate information, plus ideas for scenic drives and en route restaurants at greatescapecars. co.uk.
If your travels take you to the South of France, anywhere between Nice and Monaco, Rent A Classic Car has a sweet stable of both European and American classics. With options like Porsche 356 Speedsters, Jaguar E-Types, MG TDs and even Lotus Super Sevens, the company offers delivery anywhere on the French Riviera. The Porsche Speedsters are $350 per day, an E-Type Jag will cost you $430 per day and most cars are between $300 and $450 per day. The company is close to Cannes, which has this little film festival you may have heard of, but also hosts many other conventions and events. Contact information and getaway ideas are available at rentaclassiccar.com.
Increasingly technology is opening the passenger door to a different kind of car rental business model – peer-to-peer car services. For travelers around US and now internationally, Uber has become the preferred method of inexpensive, cashless, point-to-point transportation. With pricing sometimes half of what a taxi would cost, the app-based service makes it easy to order a car in over 55 countries around the world.
On the downside, Uber’s dreaded surge pricing is popping up more and more, demanding rates of one to two times the normal rate. Waiting a few minutes and attempting the Uber process again can sometimes get a regular, non-surge rate. Making matters more complicated, traditional taxi and limo operators are mounting a spirited defense, with the result that Uber may not be everywhere you are. Uber cars are not permitted to pick up at some airports (including LAX) and are not even allowed in some cities like Philadelphia, where the inexpensive uberX service is banned.
Lyft is another widely available app-based peer-to-peer ride service that pairs riders with drivers. Drivers with newer cars can register on the service; they’re background checked (the cars are also inspected) and then are available to requesting riders. Like the Uber app, cars and drivers can be seen, ordered and tracked in real time on the Lyft app via GPS. Available in 60 US cities, Lyft rides are also cashless, billed through the mobile device.
Beyond traditional car rentals, car sharing has also become a fast, convenient option with companies like Zipcar establishing themselves in more and more cities. Geared towards frequent, short-term renters, the Zipcar app-based shared car system includes cars parked at multiple locations in participating cities (470 cities and 400 college campuses around the world).
After paying a fee to join the system ($25 in Los Angeles), drivers can see available cars on a map. The preferred car is selected and reserved, the app is then also used to open the car onsite. Zipcars can be rented for a short as a few hours – perfect for errands – or for full days. The system works well for business travelers whose need for a rental car might really be limited to keeping a few appointments. The scheme allows payment for actual usage time, not paying a day rate to keep a rental car sitting in a parking lot for 20 hours worth of meetings.
Monthly Zipcar membership fees start at $6 per month for the basic plan, plus a fee of about $9 per hour or $73 per day to drive the car. Fuel, insurance and 180 free miles per rental are included. These are the current rates for Los Angeles residents; other cities have different rates. Various types of vehicles are offered and the rates also vary with the car. Choices include Mini Coopers, Kia Souls, Ford Focuses and similar models. The cars “live” in their own, dedicated parking spots and must be returned to that same spot. Zipcar is now a part of the Avis Budget Group.
Enterprise has also gotten into this new way to drive with its CarShare program, which also uses an app and web-based platform to reserve vehicles. The electronic CarShare membership card grants access to the vehicle and closes the rental period when finished. As with other services, the cars must be returned to the same parking spot where they’re picked up. The CarShare fleet includes many hybrids like the Toyota Prius and Ford Focus along with full electric models like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt. A range of standard gasoline models is also available along with SUVs, pickup trucks and vans.
For individuals, Enterprise CarShare has programs in 37 communities in 24 states with even more locations for business and university customers. The rates are quite attractive. Currently in San Francisco, the $40 yearly membership fee is waived and all rentals are $5.00 per hour. Rentals include basic liability and physical damage insurance, fuel (a gas card is included for fill-ups) and 200 free miles per day. Daily and overnight specials are also offered, with daily rates for economy cars at $50 and $80 per day for luxury vehicles. Rates vary in different cities. More details are available at enterprisecarshare.com.
Through new services like Hubber, it’s now possible to borrow a car from someone you don’t even know. Peer-to-peer car sharing, as it’s known, means car owners can list their personal vehicles on the Hubber service as available on dates they will be out of town.
Car owners get free airport parking as they drop their car off at the Hubber airport facility, the car is washed and fueled up, then available for rental. Visitors can browse available vehicles for their desired travel dates, book online in advance and then pick the car up at the airport location upon arrival. Hubber’s pricing is all-inclusive with fuel and insurance, $45, $60 or $75 per day depending on the vehicle. The service, currently only operating in Los Angeles, provides airport parking and passive income for car owners, and a convenient transportation option for travelers.
Owners earn a per-day fee depending on the year, make and model of the car – $10 for what Hubber offers as coach class rentals, $20 per day for their business class and $30 for their first class rentals. Payment is made (and rentals are charged) on a five-day week and the service will pay the owner’s airport parking and still wash the car if the renter cancels within five days. Eligible cars are under five years old with under 50,000 miles, under 360 horsepower and under 10,000 pounds. All the details are at drivehubber.com.
By Freddy Sherman
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