Avis Enlists Startup To Cash In On Rental Car Data

Avis Enlists Startup To Cash In On Rental Car Data

Israeli company Otonomo tasked with turning info into revenue streams

To take liberties with a classic saying uttered among determined 19th century North American prospectors, there’s gold in them thar data banks. And U.S.-based car rental company Avis wants to head an initiative to mine all that collected information with hopes of creating a lucrative revenue stream.

That’s why Avis announced on Wednesday its plans to hook up with Israeli tech startup Otonomo, which boasts a fully functioning cloud-based management system, to connect more than 100,000 vehicles via the internet  The idea is to have Otonomo collect all the data involving all the fleets of Avis and its wholly owned subsidiaries that include Budget and Zipcar. Otonomo would extract pertinent nuggets of data to sell to more than 100 other companies in its cloud-based network. 

While Otonomo declares that customers’ personal information will not be used, other bits of data including location, driving habits, tire pressure, wiper blade wear and tear, vehicle condition and so on will be peddled to any interested firm in that virtual marketplace. The potential client base for that data is extensive, running from insurance companies looking for car rental statistics to determine rates down the road to retailers seeking geographic spots to place billboard advertising.

Whether Avis will sell that data outright to Otonomo or get a cut from those sales is uncertain. Neither company disclosed any terms of the agreement. But news surrounding the tandem project is testament that use of such data is the equivalent to sitting on an untapped motherlode. Market consultants McKinsey & Co. agree, having predicted that the vehicle data marketplace could be worth roughly $750 billion by 2030. This could begin a trend in just how vehicle management software is utilized.

“Optimized data at this level has real potential to change what the future of mobility looks like, and it will open the door for sharing the data with new partners,” Arthur Orduna, Avis’ chief innovation officer, said in an email to Reuters.

Otonomo isn’t the only player in the cloud-based vehicular data market, however, but the company claims it’s an industry leader. Bragging rights are based on the company boasting it has 18 million cars already connected, with that figure predicted to hit 20 million by year’s end. That’s apparently more than half the connectivity of its closest competitor in a field that includes the likes of GM-backed Wejo and California-based Smartcar. 

Besides connecting car rental fleets, Otonomo’s technology is also being used to determine smart-city traffic flow in London, remotely monitor the performance and condition of vehicles, and predict mobility issues before they take place. 

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