Avis Budget Group Inc. wants to make the car rental process as mobile as the cars themselves.
The rental giant rolled out a new app, known as Avis Now, that will allow the company to communicate with vehicles outfitted with sensors and other equipment to manage reservations, rental details, checkouts, returns and payments, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
The new app will also allow customers to view and select vehicles and upgrade options in real time while they walk through the rental lot. After a customer chooses a car, the vehicle will even flash its lights to make sure the customer can easily identify it. According to the report, the app is a response to pressure Avis is feeling from startup competitors
The way people rent and buy cars is in the midst of an ongoing shift, as documented by the PYMNTS.com Unattended Retail Tracker. The latest tracker features an interview with the CEO of Carvana, another company looking to change the automobile industry by offering car sales via a giant vending machine.
Avis executives used a combination of customer surveys and conversations to find out what was causing friction for its customers. Customers reported that people were frustrated by the traditional rental process. Many travelers looked to avoid the tedious forms and long lines associated with the car rental process by using alternatives, such as a ridesharing service, like Uber or Lyft.
The app’s launch positions Avis ahead of others in the rental car space, which had not yet been affected by much of the new technology available, according to WSJ. Though companies like Avis have experimented with sensors, telematics and other technology since 2010, prices for the technology have only recently become cheap enough to support widespread deployment.
So far, Avis has rolled out the new app and sensors in roughly 10 percent of its 5,500 locations, including at 52 American airports, along with three in the United Kingdom and two more in France. The company said that other sites are expected to receive the technology later this year or in 2017.
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The PYMNTS.com Unattended Retail TrackerTM, powered by USA Technologies, tracks the movers and shakers in this space and ranks and scores the providers using this new channel to respond to changing consumer needs. We’ve sliced this ecosystem into the distinct categories that make sense for our audience: Food & Beverage, Vending, Service Vending, Remote Retail, Parking and Restaurant & Hospitality.
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