Avis Tries out Connected Wireless Fleet of Cars in Kansas City

Car-rental company says move in Kansas City should pave the way towards alliances with cities around the globe.

Avis Budget Group

Avis says its first fleet of cars connected to the internet and each other is in operation in Kansas City, Missouri positioning the car-rental company for other such alliances with cities around the globe.

Avis on Thursday said its "Mobility Lab" includes more than 20 car-rental locations, including Kansas City International Airport and Nebraska's Eppley Airfield and Lincoln Airport. 

The plan involves connecting 5,000 cars in Kansas City and sharing live data with the city in order to help devise better computerized traffic-flow models, and ultimately improve the experience of renting through Avis for customers.

Avis said its centralized network will help it automate operations it now does manually. 

Avis customers renting from airport and off-airport locations in the Kansas City area can control the rental experience from their smartphones, the company said. For instance, consumers can make, change or manage their reservation, extend their rental and lock and unlock the car's doors.

Avis has said its global fleet will be fully connected by 2020. 

"The steps we're taking with connected car and smart technologies will increase customer satisfaction as well as reduce operational costs in the near term, while also preparing us to meet the evolving needs of consumers, entrepreneurs, corporations and governments, like the City of Kansas City," Larry De Shon, president and chief executive officer, Avis Budget Group, said in a statement.

Vehicle connectivity is viewed as another step in the movement towards self-driving vehicles, with major manufacturers are hurrying to introduce. 

Avis and Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving operation, in June signed a deal for Avis to oversee its autonomous vehicle fleet.