How to Build a Car Rental app Like Hertz and Enterprise?

Published: October 18, 2018

13 min read

Last updated: June 23, 2022

The car rental industry has been experiencing quite a significant growth over the past several years. According to Statista, the revenue in the industry grew by approximately 46% in 2 years and will continue substantially growing in the future.

Plus, the industry expansion can be noticed in most of the regions! With Europe and North America already owning the biggest share of the world’s car rental market (Mordor Intelligence reports it to be as high as 65%), the Asia Pacific market — with Korea and Japan as key countries — is also expected to grow by over 10% each year.

*Image by Stormotion*

Image by Stormotion

Now, if we combine this data with an ongoing mobile economy trend, we can draw quite a simple conclusion: your business will benefit from both trends if you build a Car Rental App. Furthermore, it becomes even more appealing when you find out that the development itself doesn’t involve many resources and can ensure a high ROI.

Let’s take a closer look at the options that you have.

🗂 2 Car Rental App Development Approaches for Startups and SMEs

When preparing this article, we kept in mind 2 types of key personas that can benefit the most from making a mobile App for Car Rental Business. Nevertheless, we fully acknowledge that these are generic cases and the reality is much more diverse than black & white. So, in case you have some other business model, feel free to reach out to us to ask more specific questions. Surely, you can apply most of the information we talk about to your use case.

  • A Startup. You may aim at building an Aggregator (usually relies on the B2C business model; a single platform that bands together a few car rental providers), a Peer-to-Peer Agency (works in the C2C segment; users lend their vehicles to other users); Or maybe you know how to disrupt the existing markets and have a completely new Car Rental business model in mind?
  • A Business Owner who already provides car rental services — either B2B or B2C — through a website.

Your Business Background and Product Vision will determine the optimal way to make up the list of vehicles for your future Car Rental mobile App. Let me explain.

If you already have a website it can be converted into a mobile app

If you already have a website it can be converted into a mobile app (image by Sourabh Barua)

If you already have a running business but want to boost its revenue and be present at the Home Screen of your customer’s Smartphone when they are looking for a car to rent, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

For Business Owners Operating via a Website 🖥

Mobile app developers can connect your running website (and link it to a database) with your Application via an API.

Read Also

How to Turn or Convert a Website into an App?

For Startups, we at Stomotion would suggest a somewhat Product Dev Strategy in mind. Depending on the type of Car Rental mobile App you’d like to build, possible options are:

For Startup Teams

Peer-to-Peer Car Rental Marketplace 🤝

Car Rental Aggregator 📱

If you don’t have your own vehicle fleet and completely rely on Peer-to-Peer connections, the list of available cars will be updated by users themselves. It can be done with or without your approval required in the Admin Panel; it depends on your preference. However, for security reasons, it’s best to have some sort of approval process.

In case you’re building a rental Aggregator, car listings will be received from your partners through special APIs.

Based on the Product Strategy, your App Development Agency will create an appropriate Roadmap of the Project and define the Backlog of work for your MVP together with the shareholders.

It’s also important to review the core features of the Car Rental mobile App MVP since they, after all, define how the product will be developed — timeframes, correct development stack and tools, a decent estimate etc. But of course, the Scope heavily depends on your exact Product Strategy and should be defined after a Discovery stage with your selected Tech-Partner.

📲 What Features Should Be in Your Car Rental Mobile App?

As true admirers of the Lean Methodology, where main goal is creating value, we normally recommend our clients to start with an MVP.

One of the trickiest tasks at this stage is to correctly determine the right Release-Backlog which means creating an App-Product with only those features, which will solve the problem of your Target Audience (TA). This is important to cut Time-to-Market and iterate while you finally found Product-Market Fit.

Let’s think about the steps that your TA takes on the way from an interested user to a paying customer and learn how to guide them along this journey with the help of in-app features.

# 1: Search

It’s important to ensure an intuitive flow for your users that will solve their problems and, on the other hand, bring revenue to you. Therefore, they should be guided from their very first interaction with your mobile application.

From the development perspective, it’s possible to create a Car Rental App with 3 searching approaches:

  1. Users can enter the pick-up location manually.
  2. The application is allowed to use geolocation services and relies on the user’s current position.
  3. The car station can be picked up on an interactive built-in map.
The search is one of the key features of any car rental application

The search is one of the key features of any car rental application (image by Oleksandr Matorin)

For Peer-to-Peer (P2P) startups, only approaches #1 and #2 seem reasonable. However, when building a mobile App for Car Rental Business or an Aggregator Startup we would definitely recommend integrating an interactive map as well.

Although, P2P can partner with some private parking lots or spots next to the mals and use them as pick-up locations. In this case, an interactive might be feasible for such a business model as well.

🚗 Sixt Case Study

Sixt is the oldest European car rental company so its mobile application may be an interesting case to consider for SME owners.

The app combines all 3 searching approaches (with an interactive map as the main one) to create a smooth UX for people with different searching habits. It makes the flow of the typical Sixt’s user look like this:

Users indicate the needed location by revealing their current geolocation or manually entering the place ➡️ it is shown on the map along with logos of nearby stations (if any) ➡️ you can tap the logo to see the list of available cars and the station’s info (name, opening hours, address).

Actually, it won’t take too much to make the Mobile App for a Car Rental Company with similar searching patterns. So, in case that’s something you think would be reasonable for your use case, you can definitely implement it.

Also, due to the integration with Google Maps Services, Sixt’s users can search any place (for example, Eiffel Tower) and then choose a suitable nearby station. Moreover, it’s possible to call a station or build a route there using specific buttons at bottom of the screen.

How will it help your business grow?

It all starts with the search. By specifying the Pick-Up Location, users check whether your application can cover their needs in the specific area. If you can, there’s no doubt that they’ll pay for your services.

Thus, a well-implemented search functionality is necessary for good conversion rates which define how much revenue your application is going to generate.

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When the Pick-Up and Return Locations are determined, it’s time to move to the second step of your users’ journey.

# 2: Car Listing

No matter how you got your car listing (we’ve discussed it earlier), it needs to be organized in a nice way. Considering the latest Mobile Design Trends, our Stormotion Developers would recommend you to choose a minimalistic & plain UI for this screen.

In particular, here’s what your audience expects to see the most:

  • Car’s make and model.
  • A photo.
  • Rate per day.
  • Some additional info that you find useful (for example, a type of gearbox, availability of air conditioner, number of seats, and so on).
  • Additional fees if there are any (for instance, a compulsory insurance/deposit or a young driver fee). On this screen, it’s usually presented as a single number.
  • Fuel Policy.

A convenient navigation system is another must-have if you want to make a Car Rental App with many listed vehicles. A lot of people (79% of website users but the stats for mobile will be quite similar) are going to abandon your application if they don’t like what they’ve found.

Filtering helps users to shape the results and find the best option

Filtering helps users to shape the results and find the best option (image by Maciej Kownacki)

To meet their expectations and provide them with accurate results in a shorter time, you can add the Filtering & Sorting Feature.

🚙 Turo Case Study

As Developers, we like how this kind of functionality is carried out in the Peer-to-Peer Turo App. Using minimalistic design, Turo’s Dev Team provided a variety of parameters to shape the search: price, vehicle type, make, model, year, class, transmission.

The search becomes even more clear-cut as you filter the cars by such specific features as colour, heated seats, USB input, child seat, bike rack etc.

However, if you plan to develop a Car Rental App like Turo for your local area, we’d recommend you to postpone such upgraded functionality for the post-MVP Stage (unless such tailored filters aren’t your Unique Selling Point (USP)).

How will it help your business grow?

Filtering & Sorting are a natural continuation of the search process since it helps to narrow down the results and find the most suitable vehicle without the need to look through the whole list.

Therefore, it increases your chances to solve the user’s pain and turn them into a paying customer.

When a user stumbles upon an interesting offer, they’d normally like to learn a bit more about it. That’s when detailed info comes into the game.

# 3: Detailed Information about a Car Offer

While scrolling through the list of results, your users will have a natural desire to tap an offer for more details. That’s why we see it as a part of the MVP Scope. Beyond what they’ve already seen, your audience is craving other car specifications and more information about the T&C of the offer.

For example, if you want to develop a Car Rental App with a Peer-to-Peer business model, you can reuse Turo’s idea: a separate “Description” field where car owners can leave their instructions or give a comprehensive description of their vehicles’ features.

A comprehensive description of the vehicle increase chances that user will book it

A comprehensive description of the vehicle increase chances that user will book it (image by Yaroslav Zubko)

If you’re a company working in the B2B and B2C segments, it will be enough to provide general info about the car, pricing & fuel policy, and additional services that you can offer.

Additionally, this is the right moment to let your users choose a more suitable Payment option for them: either to pay on pick-up or online with the credit card.

🏎 Rentalcars Case Study

The Rentalcars mobile app is a perfect example of a B2C Aggregator Service and an interesting case to consider for the ones who want to build a Car Rental App of the same kind.

The Car Details screen in the Rentalcars application contains the information not only about the vehicle itself but also about the car rental company that provides the services. For example, users can find such types of supplier information as the fuel policy, age & pick-up requirements, location etc.

Furthermore, the app generates additional revenue and increases LTV by offering users to add any extras they want (like a child booster seat or a satellite navigation system).

How will it help your business grow?

At this stage, a user has almost made the decision so they just need a slight push that will decisively approve they made the right choice. Benefits, listed at this screen, can become this last impetus that will convince a user to rent a car in your app.

This screen is also great for generating additional revenue. Just like Turo or Avis, you can offer different extras (special equipment or services) that are likely to turn into a separate and significant source of income.

Finally, when a suitable car is found, the user moves to the last step — confirmation of their reservation by paying for it.

# 4: Payment Gateway

Your main goal at this final stage — no matter whether you want to make the Mobile App for a Car Rental Company or a Startup Agency — is to help people finish their reservations and turn them into paying customers.

A clear payment gateway should encourage users to finish their bookings

A clear payment gateway should encourage users to finish their bookings (image by Maciej Kownacki)

Despite your audience has already got that far, statistics say the abandon rates at the Checkout Stage may be at 50% and above. To minimize the risks that a user changes their mind and leaves the reservation unfinished, here are a few tips for you:

  1. Avoid asking people to sign up before actually processing the payment. It can be repulsive and result in numerous abandonment.
  2. The more payment options you include, the higher the chances to satisfy your audience are.
  3. People usually don’t like to share their personal data so try to ask as little of it as possible. Moreover, make sure that your app complies with the privacy regulations in your operation region (GDPR, for example).
  4. Make the whole process transparent — always show the final price without any hidden taxes or fees.
  5. Use retargeting strategies to bring the customer back in case they haven’t finished the purchase.

Advanced Tip: include User Profiles in the Scope of your Car Rental App Development. It will allow users to link their personal data with private accounts and quickly & easily reuse it during future rentals or retarget abandoned carts.

# 5: Push Notifications

Finally, we always include Push Notification Services in the Roadmaps of the MVPs our team works on. How to use them in your Mobile App for Car Rental Business? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Send a friendly reminder to a customer 24 and 6 hours before their reservation so they don't miss it.
  2. Notify about new car options in the searched area that match the user’s requests (if they haven’t already made a reservation).
  3. Encourage users who have abandoned their reservations to complete them.
  4. Alert users when their rental period is expiring.

How will it help your business grow?

Push notifications are extremely powerful when it comes to retargeting and keeping high retention rates. In other words, it means more closed rentals, more customers that came back to finish abandoned orders, more satisfied users.

Admin Panel

Apart from the UI and UX solutions for your Car Rental mobile App, you’ll need to connect it with a massive Back-End where all data is stored. To manage the work between the mobile client and web databases, you’ll need the Admin Panel.

Manage all your work from a single place

Manage all your work from a single place (image by Ela Kumela)

If you already own a website you definitely know what the Administration Panel is all about. Its main features are:

  • Car Management: add and delete vehicles, update car specifications, etc.
  • Payment Management: makes the whole transaction system transparent by storing payment details and allowing you to set such parameters as reservation rates, the price of extra services, and so on.
  • Customer Management: confirm or reject reservations and store different data associated with a particular user.
  • Analytics Dashboard: shows how your business performs (daily/monthly reservations and revenue, the number and statuses of current leases, etc.).

Although the Admin Panel is “invisible” to users, it actually determines how effectively you as an owner will be able to manage your business through the app.

But remember the MVP approach: only you and a couple of your employees will use it, so there’s no need to invest in the fancy design. Just build it using Bootstrap or similar.

Read Also

[How and Why] Outsource Your Mobile App Development?

⚙️ Tech Stack that You Might Need to Make a Car Rental App

The success of your Project greatly depends on the Tech Stack. Usually, it’s the CTO’s task to pick up the right dev tools that will help your In-House or Remote Team to create a Car Rental App. However, here are a few ideas to consider from the Stormotion Development Squad (as we’re usually acting as a CTO for our clients):

  1. To handle payments, we recommend using Braintree SDK or Stripe API.
  2. Firebase SDK is one of the best tools so far used by our team to implement Push Notifications.
  3. If you’re planning to develop a Car Rental App like Rentalcars (a mobile aggregator) it’s possible to use, for instance, Europcar, Hertz, Avis, Alamo, Thrifty APIs to integrate their car databases.
  4. Google Maps Platform Tools is necessary if you want to integrate maps into your application.
  5. We recommend building the app using React Native. This will allow building a cost-effective cross-platform app with native UX.

Read Also

React Native vs Native (iOS/Android) App Development Comparison

💰 Cost to Build a car Rental App

As always, we provide you with an approximate estimate of car rental app development:

MVP Features Estimated in Hours
Using React Native

⚙️ Features

⏳ Min Hours

⏱ Max Hours

🛠Setup Technical Foundations



⚙️Common Dev Tasks (Build Preparations, GIT-Flow, etc.)



🔐Sign Up Flow



🔎Search Flow



Enter Location



Pick Date



In-app map with stations



Station Info Screen



🚙Car Booking Flow



Car Catalogue



Filtering Options



Sorting Options



Car Details Screen



Booking Extras Screen



💸Payment Flow



🤝Support Flow



🔔Push Notifications



⏳Total hours



💵Approximate costs



To calculate the price we used the average hourly rate for Eastern Europe - $40/hour. However, the price (and the needed time as well) may greatly vary on many factors. So if you want to get a more accurate estimate for your project, drop us a line!

After asking some details and going throught the Project Discovery Stage we'll be able to give you a more precise estimate of costs develop a car rental app.

💡 Takeaways

It seems now we’ve shared most of the useful insights to build a Car Rental App for your Startup or Business. Of course, there’s a lot more to the development than what we’ve talked about in the article, however, it significantly depends on your specific use case:

  1. Define core elements of the future Digital Product: your target audience, their pain points, and your offered solution. Also, your USP and monetization model are essential things to think about.
  2. Find an App Dev Agency that will help to create a PoC for you, prepare an Estimate and go through the Discovery Phase to pick up an appropriate Tech Stack & create the Roadmap.
  3. Develop an MVP and bring it to the market. Check if your Product solves the pain of your audience and whether they are ready to pay for your product.
  4. Iterate with your Tech-Partner till you have found a Product-Market fit.
  5. Found it? Now it’s time to pitch it to the investors and secure additional funding for the further development and growth of your Startup.

Have any questions on how to develop a car rental app like Hertz, Turo or Rentalcars for your own business? Or you need a reliable Tech-Partner who will craft a Scalable Digital Product with you and help to skyrocket it? Push the button below, and we’ll help you get things done!

Get Your Car Rental Idea Done!

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