By Andrew Ganz
Wednesday, Oct 17th, 2012 @ 1:45 pm
 

Leveraging his experience with hourly car rental firm ZipCar, a Texas entrepreneur plans to send heads rolling in the daily airport business when his Audi A4-only agency launches soon.

"We want to do for rental cars what iTunes did for music," Silvercar CEO Luke Schneider told Wired's Autopia. Schneider previously served as ZipCar's chief technology officer.

With a fleet consisting exclusively of silver 2013 Audi A4s - at least for now - Silvercar is set to launch later this year with a VIP-style rental process designed to save drivers time both before and after they pick up their car.

Silvercar renters will be instructed to use a mobile phone application. At the rental lot, renters bypass a traditional counter and head straight to the A4 of their choice. Using the app, they unlock the car, which automatically knows their satellite radio presets and has their destination programmed into the navigation.

Morever, Silvercar's website indicates that the vehicle return process is even more revolutionary. The Silvercar app alerts drivers when they should arrive at an airport based on their flight schedule and lines at TSA security checkpoints. In addition, the A4 automatically reports how much gas it used and how much money is due for tolls.

Schneider says that the Silvercar app sends drivers a receipt "before you even get to the gate."

Silvercar is remaining vague about just where it plans to launch, but the Austin-based firm is reportedly looking a few hours up Interstate 35 to the busiest airport in the southwest, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Wired says that DFW's development plan indicates a place for a Silvercar-like firm as part of the airport's ongoing construction work.

Just how much will it cost to rent an A4? Again, Silvercar is keeping its lips sealed, but Schneider did indicate that rates will be on par with full-size sedans from big agencies.

Of course, Silvercar has some serious competition from existing firms like Hertz and Avis, which have tailored their operations to appeal to highly-profitable and loyal business travelers. Hertz's #1 Gold program, in particular, is designed to save renters time by having a pre-selected vehicle waiting for them with its trunk open so they can bypass lines at the rental counter.