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2 Ways Audi Adapts To Changing Car Ownership Patterns

As Audi expands its technology suite, it is in the process of completing the purchase of Silvercars, a rental-ordering app that allows customers to order rentals from the smartphones.

With the auto industry confronting changing ownership-leasing patterns, automakers are looking for ways to stay ahead of the curve. For instance, many people, led by millennials, are moving away from traditional car ownership or leasing patterns to ride-hailing or car-sharing or app-driven car rentals.

Keeping Ahead Of The Curve

To stay ahead of the changes, carmakers are either partnering with Uber or Lyft, in some cities. Or, they are setting up their ride-share/hailing subsidiaries. In the newest category, app-driven car rentals, Audi has purchased a startup that rents out one of its models, the A4, at its current 15 locations across the U.S. The A4s are, not too surprisingly, are silver.

Audi Thursday announced the acquisition of Silvercar, an app-driven car rental firm that rents out the silver A4s. Currently, Silvercar rents cars out of upscale hotels in Brooklyn, New York, and South Beach, Florida. Initially, the rental firm targeted airports in cities like Dallas and Los Angeles.

Founded five years ago, Silvercar now has 150 employees. Audi made its initial investment two years ago and now believes its purchase sometime before June. In a statement Thursday, the automaker said the full acquisition would help as it expands its technology offerings here.

Audi Strengthens Its Hand

That franchise is an app that lets users book the compact A4 sedans at any of its locations across the country. It is part of an effort by the Volkswagen Group to compete against competition from Silicon Valley. Automakers are using in-vehicle apps do two things, compete effectively and attract millennials.

Volkswagen is moving along in its strategy having acquired a piece of the taxi-ordering app Gett last year. The automaker, in response to Mercedes-Benz and BMW, has also launched its own mobility division Moia. At this point, though, the automaker is being constrained by the rising costs of its self-inflicted diesel cheating scandal. To date, Dieselgate has cost the automaker 22.6 billion euros or $24 billion.