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may 12 2011

Auto rental lot of the future: 'anywhere you can park five cars'

A Smart car in Vienna. (Courtesy SDC/myBudgetTravel)

Down the line, renting a vehicle will probably be a lot more like car sharing than the typical experience at the car rental counter today.

In a recent keynote address at the 2011 Car Rental Show in Las Vegas, Larry De Shon, executive vice president of operations at Avis Budget Group, said technologies used for car sharing services like Zipcar could and should be incorporated into the standard brick-and-mortar rental operation. As reported by Auto Rental News:

De Shon gave the example of a group of cars parked at a corporate campus in designated parking areas. Company employees can reserve a car using a smart phone, which can also unlock the vehicle. Mileage is tracked and gas consumption is measured to the 1/10th gallon. When finished, the computer locks the doors for you. Billing is seamless. This allows disparately located micro-fleets, situated conveniently for different rental situations, to be controlled by one mother store. "Now the local market store is anywhere you can park five cars," said De Shon.

What would these changes mean to the typical upsell at the rental counter? And all those special taxes tacked on to rentals picked up at airports? What about charges for prepaid gas, insurance, and other add-ons?

If any of these hassles, headaches, and fees would disappear, then these are innovations that travelers would surely welcome. The convenience of picking up a rental car almost anywhere, and being able to rent by the hour, day, or week, sounds nice too.


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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.


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