Car rental, leasing and sharing markets – Find out about the latest websites and apps

As the future of mobility continue to be reshaped by the fluidity and flexibility of current attitudes and needs; how are the car rental, leasing and sharing markets developing their website strategies? What are the design overlaps and which permeate each sector? What should new players to the industry consider in order to achieve success?

The first thing to mention is that, while there exists considerable overlap between the presentation styles of rental, long-term leasing and car sharing websites, there are currently no sites that combine all three mobility avenues together. There is a trend to focus on, or at least specialize in one of these areas. Whatever is the main focus (rentals, leasing or sharing) will govern the presentation style of the website.

Car rental sites, for example, are using a very similar layout template. This holds true for leasing sites and car sharing too.

Although car rental sites do share a little information about the cars that they have available, the detail is extremely limited. Detail for each car is kept to basic necessary information such as its size, transmission, storage space. But, fundamentally these sites are mostly just portals that amalgamate information provided by the big car rental companies. Research suggests that the average visitor to such websites often stay for a maximum of 5 minutes and visit an average of 4 pages. This possibly explains the reason care detail is kept to a minimum, or conversely highlights a possible way to maintain a visitors’ attention.

Most car rental sites provide some recommendation or review feedback, whether through star rating systems, customer reviews or associating a percentage score with each car, highlighting how often each car has been selected for rental. The leasing site Edmunds goes one step further by providing its own expert reviews for each available car, complete with rating system with marks out of 10.

Both car leasing and car rental sites clearly outline the abundance of cars that are available. These sites all vary in presentation of the cars. Only the website Carlease attempted something different, by sharing a detailed professional gallery along with the description of each car. This site also provided the most in depth detail for each car available on the site. A nice touch by Carlease and also Sixt Leasing, is to be able to do a car search by make. Using logos rather than text, it is possible to head directly to  specific companies selection of autos.

Of the three sectors, car sharing websites are the most expressive and vary the most in style of presentation. The main focus seems to be presenting the company as young, trendy and creative, rather than following the data driven format of car rental sites. There is very little focus on the available cars, rather the website is mainly used to explain the concept to potential customers. For many of these sites, the core business functions through an app rather than the website.

Zipcar is probably the best known car sharing website and its site is the most similar in look and layout to that of traditional car rental sites. Although the site mainly focuses on how Zipcar works, space is given to sharing some of the cars that are available for hire. No real detail is provided other than the name and make of car. A nice touch is that Zipcar members can share photos of how they have used the service; which cleverly serves as almost a blog and a review portal.

Another car sharing company which has a presentation similar to that of a traditional car rental site is Turo, recently called the AirBnB of car rentals. Their site front page focuses on the customers plans, allowing the user to input the data for their planned journey requirements. But the rest of the site follows a more creative model. There is a blog, and a section highlighting the top destinations for selected by Turo users. Rather than using stock images to demonstrate the available cars, Turo uses customer shots with real cars on location in various places around the world. This technique certainly presents Turo as slightly different from the rest.

ReachNow, a company working in combination with BMW do a good job of explaining the social, environmental reasons for their service; which will appeal to many. Rather than only making a statement about sustainability and shared mobility, they dedicate a part of their website to sharing the vision they have for the future. This is a nice touch that millennials will appreciate.

The majority of car sharing websites are designed very well and are very engaging. They, for the most part, very clearly convey the company message and share details of how their system works. Two very different, but excellent examples are Maven and Car2Go. Maven employ a system of symbols to transmit its message whereas Car2Go shares an engaging video. Both ideas work well on their respective websites.

The challenge will be to find a way to combine the best parts of all of these websites; how to make the design and presentation as engaging and interesting as the best car sharing websites, yet functional and user friendly as the traditional car rental portals. Another important consideration maybe be how to display more detailed information for each car, above the basic detail that most provide; and do so in a way that attracts rather than repels users and visitors.

A recent article from Business Insider commented that the carsharing industry is to witness a massive 34%+ growth over 2016-2024 and the industry share from business applications is anticipated to experience a significant upswing over the coming time frame. Hence there is an expectation that there will be more options available in the coming month and years, as there is a heavy shift towards shared mobility. listed Car2Go, ReachNow, Maven and Turo as the companies to look out for in the car sharing space. However, the latest news is that Uber are joining this market also.

The final consideration is the fact that many of these car sharing ideas work mainly through an app and not the website. points out that m-commerce traffic drives over 50% of e-commerce in developed countries, suggesting there there is a need to consider a mobile strategy.

As the future of mobility continues to adjust to the needs of communities, we can expect that website presentation will also adjust. What will appeal to the millenials and future generations? How will companies account for older generations being more apt technologically? Should the focus solely be on developing a mobile application rather than sticking to the traditional website format? The answers will to these questions will soon be evident as modern mobility needs and desires continue to change and companies develop strategies in order to remain successful.