Uber is now letting people rent entire cars from the app

By Matt McFarland, CNN Business

    (CNN) -- Uber launched car rentals in its app nationwide Wednesday, and will launch a valet service next month in DC to drive them to customers.

The car rental program, called Uber Rent, will offer in-app bookings from brands like Avis and Hertz, according to Uber.

Prices will be set by the rental companies, Uber said, and it will take a cut of the bookings, similar to how traveling booking sites operate.

There has been a shortage of rentals cars in the US after rental companies sold off much of their idle fleets early in the Covid-19 pandemic.

Uber believes it can attract customers to reserve rentals cars with it by streamlining the experience with a decluttered look following feedback from user testing. It also said it will initially offer a 10% rebate on all bookings with Uber Cash, money that can be spent on Uber's app for other purchases. The company didn't say how long the 10% discount will last for.

Its competitor Lyft began offering car rentals in its app in 2019 and has expanded in 15 states and the District of Columbia through a partnership with the car rental company Sixt.

Uber's valet service will launch in DC next month, and Uber said it plans to expand driving cars to customers nationwide later this year. The price for valet service will be similar to the cost of an on-demand ride, according to a spokesman who declined to offer more specifics.

Rental deliveries can be contactless given social distancing concerns. Uber said it will develop authentication methods like using a PIN code to make sure only the customer can access their vehicle. (DC, where Uber will launch Uber Valet, has seen an increase in auto thefts this year.)

Valet drivers will be drawn from anyone on Uber's platform who is over 25, opted into its "Work Hub" program, and joined the Avis Preferred membership program. Tips can be left for Valet drivers.

Uber made the car rental announcement during an event Wednesday that unveiled new products, including a way to book rides to vaccines in its app.

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