Shared Mobility as the New Dawn for Rental Industry
With the acceleration of connected vehicle technology, the automotive fleet industry is going through a rapid evolution. Traditional business models are making way for new ones, driven by connectivity, with the term ‘shared mobility’ becoming commonplace.
This has prompted the rental industry to look at ways to evolve, and the car sharing industry at ways to continually differentiate itself. A major step in this evolution has been enabled by vehicle OEMs who now commonly offer mobile phone-based keyless entry systems, manageable via their cloud portal. Replacing the physical vehicle keys with digital keys – held on the driver’s smartphone, which the fleet manager can issue via a secure cloud portal – is a real opportunity for the fleet industry as it looks to address key challenges of cost control and commoditization. Any such solution, however, needs to have the flexibility to
cater to multiple users across multiple vehicles and there are several obstacles that the industry will need to overcome to unlock the mobility business models of the future.
The connected services evolution
First and foremost, with any connected service, given that satisfied customers mean repeat business and more predictable revenue, an improved and personalised user experience should be of paramount importance. For example, tailoring the in-vehicle experience to the individual needs of the customer, even before they pick up the vehicle – from IVI preferences to vehicle settings and so on – helps customers feel valued. This sense of personalisation applies with both car sharing and car rental, especially with renting high-specification models. Supporting this at the vehicle requires appropriate integration by the OEM.
An enabler for these services is digital keyless vehicle access using smartphones – recent innovations in keyless entry include proximity detection, automatic trunk opening and push-button start and with additional rich functionality and flexible integration, it can unlock new business models in shared mobility. While this sounds attractive from a business standpoint, it must be remembered that with the addition of any new components to a system, a degree of risk is introduced. This risk pertains not only to performance and reliability of the system, but also in security, since the security of any system is only as strong as its weakest link.
As more of these IoT features get implemented into vehicles, car rentals companies are going to be able to operate 24/7 as seamless mobile application booking, key less smartphone entry, and billing payments made through the app will reduce the need for employees around the clock. Beyond this, car rental companies are going to be able to personalize the experience even further when voice activation services become refined through artificial intelligence, making in-car travel planning a breeze.