Uber taps Australia for world-first car rental trial
Ride-sharing firm Uber will use Australia to test its first entry into the car rental market today, launching the new service in Brisbane before it rolls out to the rest of the country next week.
The new addition, called Uber Rent, will let users hire cars and catch a ride to them, in a move Uber Australia general manger Dom Taylor said was designed to support Australia's "domestic tourism sector" as coronavirus travel restrictions were lifted.
The addition could also open a new market for the beleaguered firm, which has laid off thousands of staff members during the COVID-19 pandemic and reported a $US2.9 billion loss in the first quarter of the year as demand for travel waned.
The world-first service, Uber Rent, will appear as an option in the company's app for half of all users in Brisbane today, and will be rolled out to half of Uber users in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, and the Gold Coast from next Monday.
Mr Taylor said it was designed to help Australians take road trips to holiday locations within the country and support the tourism industry's "recovery" now coronavirus restrictions were being removed.
"Many Australians don't have access to a car and we know more states are opening up every day so supporting the domestic tourism market is important," he said.
"More Australians will likely be heading out of town and this gives us another means to really challenge the decision to own a car."
Uber Rent will use car rental listings gathered from established firms such as Hertz and Enterprise by third-party aggregator CarTrawler, with prices ranging from $42 for a compact vehicle to $75 for an SUV.
CarTrawler chief commercial officer Aileen McCormack said the new partnership could play an important role in getting "people to move again" following travel bans.
Mr Taylor said users would also receive a $100 credit with their first car rental, to get them to and from the collection point.
The company's new car rental system is just the latest service trialled by ride-sharing services in an attempt to stay in business during the coronavirus pandemic that has dramatically affected travel.
Uber has also launched a delivery service, a pet transport service, and an option to hire drivers by the hour in Australia over the past three months.
Despite these efforts, and a rise in UberEats orders, the company reported a $US2.9 billion loss in the first quarter of 2020 and laid off 3700 full-time employees last month.
Other ride-sharing companies adding new services include Shebah, which added a delivery service called Drops in March, and Ola, which introduced a delivery service and a "super sanitised" version of its ride service called Ola Pro in April.
Originally published as Uber taps Australia for world-first car rental trial