Uber moves into car rental in partnership with CarTrawler

Irish travel tech company’s booking platform to be used for Uber Rent service

Uber is expanding into the car rentals business in the United States and has partnered with Irish travel tech company CarTrawler to do so.

The car hailing company is to use CarTrawler’s booking platform to allow US consumers to rent vehicles at competitive rates from a large number of companies via its mobile app.

Dublin-headquartered CarTrawler makes software used by airlines and travel partners to connect to car rental, airport transfer and lift-hailing providers.

"We're excited to be teaming up with CarTrawler to help facilitate even broader access to rental vehicles when customers use Uber Rent to head out for that next getaway, errand, or adventure," said Caleb Varner, global head of Uber Rent.

“As we partner on this and future endeavours together, we’re committed to creating a stellar rental vehicle experience defined by more options and less stress,” he added.

The move comes as Uber is seeking to win back customers after seeing a steep and prolonged decline in users of its car hailing services brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The company’s Uber Eats division overtook revenues from its core business for the first time last year. However, it is forecasting a rebound as more people are vaccinated and life returns to something like normal.

Dublin base

Aileen McCormack, chief commercial officer at CarTrawler, said the company was excited to partner with Uber for the US launch of its car rental service.

“We’re delighted that one of the biggest tech companies in the world has chosen to partner with an Irish company for one of its core functions. Uber’s key products are rent, ride and eat, and they don’t usually outsource their technology. So to choose us is a real vindication of what we’ve built in Dublin,” she said.

CarTrawler earlier this year forecast a strong return to international travel, with car rental likely to be more relevant in a world in which people are wary of using public transport.

“The last year has obviously been very tough for the travel industry, and CarTrawler has been no different. But we’ve been focusing on getting ourselves and our partners ready for the return of travel. We’ve always believed a strong recovery was just a matter of time, so we’ve used that quieter period to add extra value to our offer so that it is better than ever,” said Ms McCormack.

“We are very optimistic about the return of travel as restrictions ease and we have continued to sign a large number of strategic partnerships, some of which we haven’t announced yet,” she added.

British private equity group TowerBrook took control of the company in return for a €100 million cash injection a year ago after CarTrawler was thrown into emergency debt restructuring talks due to the grounding of airline fleets globally amid the pandemic.