Audi and Silvercar shift partnership into high gear with new funding and collaboration

by Colin Morris
January 4, 2016
had an extra reason to pop champagne on New Year’s. Today the company announced a $28 million funding round led by Audi, the maker of the sleek sedans that lend Silvercar its luxury cachet.
Other investors included Austin Ventures and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, both of whom participated in previous rounds.
Audi North America President Scott Keogh will join Silvercar’s board of directors as it partners with the German automaker to develop a fleet solution for companies who wish to provide accessible transportation to employees on corporate campuses.
When we interviewed Silvercar CTO Allen Darnell in November, he told us the company’s biggest technical challenge was figuring out how to unlock an Audi with a phone from scratch.
“We also took on a lot in our technical design for the company,” he said. “Electing to build out all of our own backend systems for pricing, availability, inventory management, fleet, billing, etc.”
Silvercar will lend its engineering muscle to the Audi Shared Fleet project, which will make the Audi A4 brand nearly ubiquitous for a growing slice of the car manufacturer’s key demographic: hipsters age 20 to 40.
The partnership seems to fit into Audi’s broader plans to attract new car buyers to its luxury brand, even if they can’t afford it yet.
Nearly two years ago, Audi mailed a 60-page party planning guide to its roughly 280 U.S. dealers in hopes they would throw parties for young, potential customers to promote the arrival of the entry-level A3 in the North American market.
The guide danced around the loaded term “hipster” in its demographic descriptions, but advocated local, organic hors d’œuvres, craft beer, minimalist design and “refined, niche and curated” music selections.
No word yet on how exactly the tech teams from Silvercar and Audi will work together to develop the Audi Shared Fleet, but it will likely pave the way for even closer collaboration between car companies and the tech startups that are inventing new ways to drive.

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