Avis Budget Group Inc launched its first fleet of wirelessly “connected cars” in the Kansas City, MO area, reported Reuters. The 5,000 cars are connected to the internet, other vehicles, and to the car rental company via wireless technology. The connected cars allow Avis to collect live data from the vehicles, automating a manual process, to sharpen computerized traffic flow models, and collaborate on ways to improve tourists’ experiences when they rent through Avis.
According to Reuters, vehicle connectivity is a building block in the process of developing self-driving cars, which major automakers are rushing to bring to market. Automakers predict that instead of buying cars, future consumers – especially city dwellers – will generate revenue through vehicle use, so they’re trying to get ahead of the curve.
With that, Avis Chief Executive Officer Larry De Shon told Reuters, “As we think about how we’re managing our own fleet, we’re also looking to see how we can do this for others as well. There’s a lot of learning that will come out of this that will be beneficial as we look at fleet management as a service.”
Connected cars also impact the customer experience by allowing Avis renters to manage their experience through an app, including locking and unlocking car doors via smartphone. So, when will connected cars come to a city near you? Avis has said its global fleet will be fully connected by 2020.