Audi will acquire Silvercar, the Texas-based mobility company known primarily for its high-end airport car rentals. Both companies expect the sale to take place before the middle of this year, pending regulatory approval.
The two companies already had a close relationship. Audi says it began working with Silvercar on mobility projects in 2012, and it acquired a minority stake in the company in 2015. Silvercar also uses the Audi A4 exclusively for its airport rental service.
Audi’s press release confirming the deal did not offer many details on the automaker’s plans for Silvercar. But Audi did note that Silverware’s “technology platform” is already used by its own sharing services, which include Audi On Demand and Audi At Home. Both are car-sharing services, the former available to the public in San Francisco, the latter geared toward condos and other residential communities.
Audi’s acquisition of Silvercar is the latest in a series of moves by automakers to enter the sharing sector by either partnering with existing companies, or starting services of their own. General Motors offers carsharing in certain U.S. cities through its Maven brand, which also offers low-cost rentals to Lyft drivers. GM invested $500 million in Lyft last year. BMW and Daimler both operate carsharing services, and Volvo is working with Uber on the ridesharing services’s self-driving cars.
Carmakers have a major incentive to capitalize on sharing services. Increased use of carsharing and ridesharing could cut new vehicle sales, but the services could also provide companies with a new revenue stream. As the ones supplying the cars, automakers could press an advantage over standalone companies that must purchase fleets of cars, or rely on drivers to get their own rides, as Uber and Lyft do now.