Published: October 18, 2018
13 min read
Last updated: June 23, 2022
🗂 2 Car Rental App Development Approaches for Startups and SMEs
📲 What Features Should Be in Your Car Rental Mobile App?
💰 Cost to Build a car Rental App
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
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.
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.
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 (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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
How to Select an Agency for Your App Development?
When the Pick-Up and Return Locations are determined, it’s time to move to the second step of your users’ journey.
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:
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 (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.
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 (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.
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 (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:
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.
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:
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.
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 (image by Ela Kumela)
If you already own a website you definitely know what the Administration Panel is all about. Its main features are:
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.
[How and Why] Outsource Your Mobile App Development?
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):
React Native vs Native (iOS/Android) App Development Comparison
As always, we provide you with an approximate estimate of car rental app development:
MVP Features Estimated in Hours
Using React Native
⏳ Min Hours
⏱ Max Hours
🛠Setup Technical Foundations
⚙️Common Dev Tasks (Build Preparations, GIT-Flow, etc.)
🔐Sign Up Flow
In-app map with stations
Station Info Screen
🚙Car Booking Flow
Car Details Screen
Booking Extras Screen
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.
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:
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!
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