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Ford, Avis Budget will bring connectivity to over 35,000 rental cars

It won't magically unlock with your phone, but it could make parts of the rental process easier to handle.

If simply looking at this picture gets you anxious, you'll likely appreciate even the smallest improvement to the rental-car process.
Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Nobody likes going through the motions involved in renting a car, so if some of it can be offloaded to the cloud, that should make the process more palatable for the average renter. That's the idea behind Ford's latest announcement.

Ford and Avis Budget Group announced today that the rental company will team up with the automaker to add connectivity to over 35,000 Ford rental vehicles. It will bring benefits to both the consumer and the rental group's backend, so not only will it smooth things out for the hoi polloi, managing the rentals should also be easier.

Ford's commercial-solutions arm is offering up a system called Ford Data Services. For the renter, Avis customers will be able to manage more of the rental experience through Avis' app, including vehicle selection. It will also work for rental returns, requiring just a quick tap when dropping off a vehicle.

As for Avis Budget Group, this new solution will give the company real-time telemetry data that lets employees glance at specifics like vehicle fuel levels, odometers and vehicle health. In theory, Ford's system will improve turnaround time in preparing rental vehicles for future customers.

It'll take some time before all the pieces come together, though. Ford estimates that it'll connect more than 10,000 of Avis Budget's Ford rental fleet by the end of this year, with an additional 25,000 cars to come in the first half of 2019. The automaker hopes that it can have a fully connected fleet by 2020.