Car Rental App Development: 5 Features to Win the Market

7 min readJun 27, 2022

he car rental industry is a massive market, and it is projected to grow in the next few years. According to a recent report, the car rental market is worth an estimated $103 billion. By 2028, this figure is expected to reach $141 billion, which means that entrepreneurs can expect a lot of potential customers and bigger profits.

What’s more, the car rental industry is becoming increasingly digital with more users preferring to book vehicles through an application rather than by phone or in the company office. This is good news for tech companies looking to develop car rental software, as there are excellent opportunities to capture a niche market with an in-demand product.

Developing a car rental app like Turo: where to start?

If you intend to engage in rental car app development, you need to know your competitors and learn from their experiences. Turo is now considered the best car rental service with 5+ million downloads and a 4.9 rating. Hertz, Avis, Enterprise, Free2Move, and Getaround are other popular solutions that also have a lot of users both on iOS and Android platforms.

What attracts customers to these applications, and why are they so commonly used? First of all, this is an excellent user experience. If you read the reviews on Turo and other apps in the list, you will see how customers appreciate intuitiveness and seamless app operation. The majority of users would even turn a blind eye to high prices if the overall impression from the app is highly enjoyable.

Turo app reviews

So, if you want to develop an app like Turo or Avis, you should pay special attention to the UI/UX part. To do that, try walking in users’ shoes and identify what they expect from your rental solution and the vehicles.

For example,

  • businessmen would appreciate a speedy and reliable car
  • travelers would want an economic and comfortable ride
  • organizers of special events would look for uniqueness and recognition in rented vehicles

The users’ needs are diverse, and in order to meet them you need to correctly identify the target audience and find the right product-market fit. Developing user personas will help you achieve this. A correctly composed persona personalizes the future customer, increases the empathy of developers, and clarifies the requirements for the rental car software features.

User persona of a car rental app

Car rental app fundraising: how to attract investors to your project

The car rental app investors will believe in your project if three conditions are met:

  • you have a clear product development plan
  • you partner with a reliable software development team
  • your app has unique features that distinguish it from similar solutions

To fulfill the first two conditions, you need strong technical expertise and excellent market understanding. To meet the third condition, you have to think outside the box and add a portion of creativity to your technical and marketing knowledge bases. Below are five feature ideas to make your car rental app unique.

Digital car key

A digital car key allows customers to unlock and start a rental car using their smartphone. This greatly saves time on both sides as a customer and an owner do not have to meet in person but can rent out and return a car using a mobile app.

The digital car key feature works as follows:

  • The customer selects a car model, sets a renting period, and sends a request to the owner
  • The owner accepts or denies the request by the pressing the corresponding button in the app
  • Once the request is approved, the customer can unlock the car and start a ride
Using mobile app to unlock the car

Behind the scenes

To implement the digital car key feature, the car rental software team must connect to a third-party service integrated with the servers of vehicle manufacturers. This will allow their app to communicate with cars across brands without installing and managing their own hardware.

A good example of a digital car key API is Smartcar. Services like Turo have it as a crucial part of their tech stack to provide quick access to the car through the app.

P2P carsharing

If you don’t own a large fleet of vehicles, you might think of building a service that will connect individual car owners with potential renters. Such services are widely in-demand because they provide more affordable prices compared to car rental companies. Think of Airbnb or where apartment and hotel owners post their property. P2P carsharing works the same way. The only difference is that, instead of houses, the app will display cars, their prices, and available dates.

Behind the scenes

As your brand becomes more recognizable, more car owners will register their vehicles in your app, and more customers will want to rent them. In order for your service to cope with a growing user base, it is vital to use technologies that enable effortless scaling up of the system. Cloud providers like AWS or Azure provide ample opportunities for backend and frontend software development and allow using cloud resources for car rental apps on-demand. Cloud systems also have instruments for IoT, AI/ML, and AR/VR implementation and allow paying on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Tracking technology

In recent years, tracking technology has moved from the category of nice-to-have features to the category of must-have features. TMS systems, delivery solutions, and even dating apps have an in-built location that helps users track packages, discover places, and meet people nearby.

For a car rental app, tracking technology plays a crucial role from the security point of view. Both renter and a rental company are interested in car tracking, as the former proves their good intentions, and the latter ensures the vehicle’s safety.

Car tracking also greatly enhances the user experience. Users stay up-to-date about the car arrival time, possible obstacles on the way to timely arrival, changing routes, or unplanned stops, so they can arrange their daily routine accordingly.

Tracking car in an app, image credit: Dribbble

Behind the scenes

To develop the tracking feature, it is enough to connect to a ready-made map service and embed it into your car rental mobile app. Currently, the most popular location solution is Google Maps. Google’s official site for developers provides well-organized information on adding their maps to iOS and Android apps.

Delivery options

People usually rent a car on a business trip or vacation. In both cases, they do not have extra time and are willing to use services that simplify their life.

Renting a car from a rental company office may take several hours. The customer needs to go to the rental office, see the cars, make their choice, sign a contract — and only then can they drive away. With a mobile app, things are different. Users choose a car from the comfort of their home and pick it up at the appointed place.

However, if you want to make UX even better, you could offer a car delivery directly to the user’s door. You would probably charge an extra fee for this service, increasing your profit, but many customers would see your product as superior to your competitors.

Behind the scenes

You need to develop an interface for drivers who will accept customers’ requests and deliver cars to an address on time. With the improvement and growth of self-driving cars, such an interface may no longer be needed, but for now it is a must.

Customer service & protection

Customer service is the support you provide to users before and after they make a purchase. Support goes far beyond the capabilities of a call center operator. It is available through the mail, in-app chat, instant messengers, and social networks. Often support works around the clock, so the users can get help at any time of day or night.

However, for brands that aim to take strong positions in the market, support should go far beyond answering questions. High-quality customer service should start with the development of secure car rent software for Android and iOS platforms. Also, your application must be compliant with the legal regulations related to your industry and the target region.

Behind the scenes

To develop a secure car rent app, software developers must adhere to the secure development lifecycle (SDLC). This involves integrating security testing and other protective activities into an existing development process to prevent potential security gaps and minimize app vulnerabilities.

How much does it cost to develop a car rental app?

For those who want to create a car rent app from scratch, it’s natural to wonder how much such a project costs. Providing the exact price is, however, impossible because the final cost depends on the complexity of features, the number of platforms, and the expertise of the development team.

If you are new to car rental application development and have a limited budget, start by building a minimum viable product (MVP). It will have only a few basic options to meet the current needs of potential customers. But you will be able to extend them in the future when your product demand is confirmed.

The price of a car rental app with basic features usually starts at $30000–40000. Further investment will depend on the users’ expectations and your financial capabilities.