Audi has carved out its own segment of the growing car share market with a new service called Audi on Demand.
The app-based rental platform is simple. Members can reserve an Audi from the company’s huge fleet of sedans, coupes, convertibles and SUVs, and have it delivered to their driveway or curbside in San Francisco.
Some interesting things about the service:
- An Audi concierge delivers the vehicle with a full tank of gas: Then, they pick it up when you’re finished. You can also choose to get the car at a designated Audi on Demand garage.
- You can rent any model: From the workhorse A4 to the insane 525-horsepower R8. Audi claims these cars can be reserved 24/7, but pick-up and delivery is limited to San Francisco city limits, between 7am and 8pm.
- You can drive as many miles as you like in most of the cars: But, the S/RS, and R8 models have a 200-mile limit. That suggests Audi is willing to risk the cost of wear and tear on it’s lower-end models only.
- Smartphones replace traditional car keys: Customers can access the vehicles via the app, which lets you lock/unlock the car and enable the ignition. A special key card is also available.
Luxury car rental is not new, but for a long time, it’s been limited to a few boutique shops on the coasts that will rent you Ferraris and Lamborghinis for thousands of dollars a day.
Audi appears to be targeting a potentially broader market, where customers are willing to spend $US200 to $US500 a day to drive something that’s still nice, but more reasonable.
Sure, it’s not a Ferrari, but Audis are nonetheless some of the most highly coveted vehicles on the road.
The company in recent years has ramped up its marketing to luxury buyers in some creative ways, with product placements in film and TV.
The company even gave cars to paparazzi-prone celebrities to drive around in New York and LA.
It might be working. Audi last year was the 2nd best-selling luxury car brand after BMW — edging out Mercedes-Benz, which fell to third place.
Car sharing apps like Zipcar are also giving people a taste of luxury car ownership. The company has been offering hourly and daily rentals on BMW 328s for a while now — and recently expanded its high-end fleet with the BMW X1, Cadillac ATS and Mercedes GLK350.
Clearly there’s a sort of democratization of luxury car ownership happening here. You no longer have to spend $US50k-plus to drive something nice, and shell out over the life of the car to maintain it. Just take out your credit card, open an app and make a reservation.
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