Look Mom, No Hands! The Future of Car Rentals in The Age of Autonomous Cars

What happens to the car rental giants when autonomous cars are a thing?

The car rental industry seems to be holding its own as far as market share goes, although growth arguable has been dampened by ridesharing services, as mentioned by PhocusWright recently, reporting that rental car 2016 growth in the US was only 1%.

So it its true, that rideshare is having an effect on car rental growth, then that begs the question: What will happen to Hertz, Enterprise, Avis etc when Elon Musk’s, Uber’s and Google's autonomous cars fill the streets?

The car rental industry in ginormous, $73 Billion globally, with the US alone representing nearly 40% of that, at around $28 Billion with 110 million reservations made by 70 million renters using 2.2 million cars.

Critical Capabilities Coming to the Fore?

If the car rental industry was to be disrupted, in my view its not going to be sudden nor easy to do. The industry would argue that it has critical capabilities and expertise that on the surface are not obvious, namely its ability to get cars to where they need to be fast. Sonari Glinton in his recent article, believes this will be a critical capability of any autonomous car company.

Hence the logistic aspects of the car rental industry, which leverages aspect of AI (predictive analytics mostly) powered by the collective wisdom of the car rental industry, may become a key part in who plays a pivotal role in the “look mum no hands” car industry.

Don’t Hold Your Breath...