REUTERS/Max Rossi (Reuters) NEW YORK (Reuters) – Airbnb Inc will make its first foray into leasing its rental car business by letting cars be used as part of its fleet, a move that could be a step toward the company’s long-term goals of driving up car use.
Airbnb is developing a fleet of cars, vans and SUVs to lease and sell on its website and will use the vehicles to test its technology, which is similar to those used by companies like Google Inc. Airbnb said it is not disclosing the details of its cars’ use.
The car rental company is working on a pilot program to lease cars to drivers in areas of high demand for cars, which will be used for “social mobility,” a term Airbnb defines as people using the car as a way to travel between cities.
Airbnb said in a statement it will make an initial pilot fleet available in cities across the United States and is working with automakers and car rental companies to test the technology.
Airbnbs plan to lease about 10,000 vehicles a year and to sell them through car rental businesses, including carpool services, leasing companies and car sharing services, it said.
The company is also developing a vehicle sharing program for people to rent cars to share and share with friends.
Airbitz, which has said it will invest more than $1 billion in the U.S. over the next decade to drive growth, is working to make the concept of renting cars part of the company and is in the early stages of an investment in a car sharing program, it added.
Airbis shares fell 1.2 percent to $6.89 on Tuesday, while the S&P 500 fell 1 percent to 1,724.99.
AirBnb said it intends to start leasing its cars to people who want to use them to drive between cities on its fleet soon.
It is planning to expand its use of cars in areas where demand is high, such as the Bay Area and New York City.
Airbnb, which said it has 3.3 million drivers and plans to expand into Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami in the coming months, is also exploring the possibility of using cars for its social mobility mission.
AirBNB is also considering leasing vans to other people who do not want to drive a car, but who want the convenience of a car to take them anywhere.
Airbozys main competitors, Lyft Inc and Uber Technologies Inc, have tried to make cars part, or at least a part of, their business models by offering discounted rates to users who lease them.
Airbnb has said that it will not do so.
Airbus and Airbnb have a long history of partnering on new ideas, often creating partnerships with companies that could benefit from the partnership.
Airplanes are used as a form of transportation by passengers around the world, but their usage is declining in many places because of air pollution.
Air pollution in China and India is causing a rise in car accidents, and the global economy has been hit by the financial crisis.