Airport car rentals seem like they’re ready for disruption, right? The same incumbents have been serving a more than $10 billion market for decades, and a few startups are stepping up to try to steal a little share from companies like Avis and Enterprise. That includes FlightCar, RelayRides, and Silvercar — which just began serving the lucrative San Francisco Bay Area by quietly launching at SFO.
In case you forgot, Silvercar seeks to re-invent the airport car rental experience by simplifying all the options that consumers are faced with and offering them a single, high-quality ride at a decent price. It has a fleet of Audi A4s that are programmed to be rented and picked up ad unlocked, all through a mobile app. The app also works to make creating a reservation ultra-simple, even enabling mobile payment once the rental period is over.
At SFO, Silvercar will mark its first entrance into the California market. So far, the company has only been operating at various airports in Texas, launching service initially at DFW, before expanding to Austin, Houston, and Dallas Love Field.
The company initiated service at SFO over the weekend, but it’s still in what CEO Luke Schneider would call a beta test. That means having a limited inventory of A4s available as it seeks to determine how much demand it will have at the airport. Still, the company is bullish on the prospect of operating in the Bay Area, a place which has huge demand for airport rentals. For his part, Schneider estimates SFO is probably the fourth-largest airport for car rentals in terms of demand.
Perhaps more importantly, the SFO clientele fits the profile of Silvercar’s target customer: highly edumacated with a propensity to use mobile phones for everyday things, and an interest in paying a little bit more for a premium experience. (Does that sound like any entrepreneurs/investors you might know?)
While the company isn’t talking too much about its expansion plans — outside of its desire to be in seven airports by year-end — it’s probably a safe assumption that SFO could be the anchor airport for a bigger expansion across other Bay Area airports, like Oakland International Airport and Mineta San Jose International Airport.
To finance its expansion, Silvercar has raised $16.5 million in financing, including a $5 million round earlier this summer. Investors include Austin Ventures, SV Angel, Chris Dixon, Dave Morin, and CrunchFund.*
* Disclosure: CrunchFund was founded by Michael Arrington, who also founded TechCrunch.