By Carlo Versano
Avis Budget Group announced this week it has 100,000 connected cars in its global fleet, a milestone that the chief innovation officer said shows the company best-known for airport rentals is poised to become a next-generation mobility provider.
The car rental company that vows "We Try Harder" also announced recently it's adding Waymo, Lyft, and Airbnb to its slate of partners.
The expansion is all part of a strategic effort to appeal to Avis's customers who increasingly view mobility and transportation as a service, said the CIO Arthur Orduna.
"We need to understand how people want to consume their mobility," Orduna said Thursday in an interview on Cheddar.
He said he's divided future Avis customers into two camps: urban commuters, attracted to the company's on-demand services like Zipcar; and travelers who need access to rentals to get around a new place.
The main priorities for building a company that can service both types of customers, he said, are connected cars and the Avis app.
The ability to communicate with a vehicle creates a better experience for users ー finding and unlocking one's car via the app, for example ー Orduna said.
The app also helps Avis to streamline its fleet operations, and, as connected cars produce data on their own movements, Avis can use that data to partner with other companies and smart cities, "based on a digital ecosystem," Orduna said.
Avis, which operates in 11,000 locations in 180 countries, is also betting that the future of mobility means autonomy.
"AV [autonomous vehicles]\ is not a matter of if ー it's really a matter of when," Orduna said.
To that end, Avis's partnership with Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving car unit, offers short-distance rides to a select group of residents in Arizona, where Waymo is testing its technology. This is in addition to an earlier deal for Avis to service Waymo's autonomous fleet.
For full interview, click here.