Auto Dealerships Have a Clear Opportunity to Win On-demand Rental Customers

A J.D. Power survey of U.S. car owners, commissioned by Dealerware, found auto dealerships have a clear opportunity to win on-demand rental customers.


  • More than half of consumer survey respondents said they were likely to seek an on-demand vehicle rental from a dealership.
  • Customers who received courtesy vehicles at their last service visit were twice as likely to say they “Definitely Will,” rent a vehicle from dealer inventory.

A survey of U.S. car owners, commissioned by fleet management experts Dealerware, found auto dealerships have a clear opportunity to win a share of the $25 billion U.S. car rental market that is primarily served by national rental chains.

To learn how existing dealership fleet programs meet customer mobility needs, and which on-demand rental offerings dealership customers say they value the most, download the full report here

The survey, completed by J.D. Power, showed that dealers have competitive advantages in customer service, fleet management, facilities and proximity to local rental customers.

Matt Carpenter, Dealerware CEO: “Daily, weekly and monthly access to vehicles on demand is becoming a real market need for consumers rethinking their personal mobility needs. Auto retailers and manufacturers are well equipped to win this market together by scaling connected fleets and delivering elevated customer experiences.”

More than half of U.S. car owners surveyed said they were likely to rent a vehicle on-demand.

Key takeaway: Fleet experience helps dealers win customers
Dealerships have over the last several years adopted mobile contracting and digital fleet management tools that make it simple, convenient and fast for customers to use dealership courtesy fleet vehicles. In turn, these investments have increased customer satisfaction with dealership experiences. 

The business impact of improved dealership experiences is undeniable. A great customer service experience was the most common factor in customers’ decision to return to a dealership, cited by 71% of survey respondents.

The study showed that providing alternate mobility options in the form of courtesy, rental or shuttle vehicles is a key piece of a great experience, and is a determining factor for dealerships’ ability to win business and build customer loyalty:

  • Ninety-six percent of customers who receive a courtesy vehicle during a service visit say they’ll return to that dealership for their next vehicle purchase.

  • Customers who received a courtesy vehicle at their last service visit were twice as likely to say they “Definitely Will,” rent a vehicle from dealer inventory.
More than half of U.S. car owners surveyed - and 60% of premium-brand vehicle owners - said they would choose an electric vehicle over an internal combustion vehicle if given a choice for a courtesy loaner.

Dealership mobility programs will also aid the rollout of new offerings, including on-demand access to electric vehicles. Introducing customers to EVs through dealership mobility programs helps dealerships keep customers “in the brand,” while giving the EV-curious a chance to test battery range and vehicle capability before considering longer term commitments.

More than half of consumers surveyed said they would choose an EV over an internal combustion vehicle as a courtesy vehicle, if given the choice.

Key takeaway: Rental is on the rise, dealerships are winning customers

Survey results show clear demand among car owners for flexible (daily/weekly/monthly) access to other vehicles. More than half of survey respondents said they were likely to seek a rental from a dealership.

The top factors influencing consumers’ choice of rental provider are:

  • Competitive pricing
  • Easy access to the location
  • Simple customer service experiences
  • Quality of vehicles
Vehicle rental needs are today mostly met by traditional rental businesses, but some customers are already turning to auto dealerships for on-demand rental. Survey responses about future likelihood to rent from traditional or non-traditional providers suggest that the customer experience provided by dealerships is more satisfactory than that provided by established rental companies.

Dealerships with fleet management experience already offer high quality vehicles and simple booking processes, and more than 60% of customers live within 10 miles of their preferred dealership.

Dealerships that already offer rentals may be more likely to see repeat business than traditional rental providers. 86% of customers who rented from dealerships in the past say they would do so again, compared to just 50% for those who rented from an off-airport location of a national rental provider.

Carpenter: “Dealerships have the facilities, vehicles, staff and customer service experience to win trust and a significant share of this market.”

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