Uber adds 'valet' car rentals as it looks to rev rides

Uber is offering a broader array of service to help people move around and get goods and services as the global pandemic eases
Uber is offering a broader array of service to help people move around and get goods and services as the global pandemic eases Josh Edelson AFP/File
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San Francisco (AFP)

Uber on Wednesday added valet delivery of rental cars as part of a suite of offerings as it aims to be "one-stop-shop" for post-pandemic venturing out or dining in.

As Covid-19 vaccines make it safer for people to move about, Uber aims to be a hub for summoning rides; running errands, or renting vehicles.

"Uber wants to be and is the one-stop shop for getting to where you need to be," Uber engineer Adib Roumani said on a video briefing with journalists.

"That's really ultimately what we're after and we want to make sure that Uber speaks to all those use cases."

Use of Uber's food delivery service, Eats, surged during the pandemic as people avoided going to stores or restaurants, while its core ride-share offering stalled.

"While much of the world stood still over the last year, our team at Uber has been reimagining how the world moves to help us return -- not just to normal, but to a better normal," Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said in a blog post.

"We've been busy innovating and building new products to help you and your family go where you want and get what you need, easier and faster than before."

Uber has been among the tech firms pitching in with vaccination efforts, and is seeing some "green shoots" as more people get jabbed, according to executives.

The San Francisco-based firm's vision has long been to get people using a combination of its services, for example enticing fans of Uber Eats to tap the app for rides or rentals.

Uber is making it possible for people taking shared rides to order items for pick-up from shops in route, or have deliveries waiting for them when they get home.

"We can’t wait to help you go anywhere and get anything," Khosrowshahi said.

A "valet" option added to Uber's car rental feature available in the US will let people use the app to book vehicles from partners such as Avis, Budget and Hertz then have them delivered.

"Your rental car will be brought to your doorstep so you can hit the road sooner," Khosrowshahi said.

"And when you’re done, a driver will meet you to take the car back. No rental car counters, no lines, no schlepping."

Uber Rent with Valet launched in Washington, DC, and was to be gradually expanded to other US cities.