German carmaker Audi offers public short-term rental cars

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In another sign that car ownership may be on the wane and mobility services on the rise, German carmaker Audi yesterday launched a short-term rental business targeted at people who want to use a car without having to buy one.

The company's Web-based Audi On Demand offers a range of the brand's latest models from $76 (for the A3 sedan) to $244 (Q7 sport utility vehicle), per four-hour slot.


Speaking to The Straits Times on the sidelines of the Singapore Motorshow, which started yesterday, Audi Singapore managing director Jeff Mannering said this rental concept is found in Hong Kong, China, San Francisco and Munich Airport.

In the wake of phone-hailed ride providers, several carmakers have started offering their own mobility services. They include Ford, Honda, BMW and Daimler.

Others like Hyundai and Toyota have taken a passive route by investing in Grab.

Audi, like a number of other manufacturers, now sees itself as more than a vehicle maker.

Latching onto the term "mobility service", Mr Mannering said Audi is taking the concept further with Audi AI - an artificial intelligence-driven driverless fleet. In the future, users may be able to summon and ride in a driverless car from Audi as well as other manufacturers.

Describing the new rental concept as a way of reaching out to potential new customers, Mr Mannering said: "It is not a very strong business case in itself, but we see it as a great way of getting people to drive our cars."

He said that when the Audi On Demand portal went live last month before yesterday's official launch, "someone found it".

"He booked a TT for a few days, and ended up buying one."

Mr Mannering said the range consists of 10 mainstream models, but could periodically include "a surprise model" - such as the R8 supercar.

The service has two other tiers: a concierge service which delivers and picks up the car, and a full chauffeured service.

Audi is offering a 30 per cent discount to Singapore Motorshow visitors, which means a little over $53 for an A3 slot, or $13 per hour.