My wife and I visited theÂ Bay Area a couple of weeks ago. Our plan was open-ended and started with a one-way ticket to Oakland and two nights at the Westin in Union Square. Since parking in San Francisco isÂ expensive, we decided to forgo renting a car at the airport and took an Uber into the city.
AfterÂ exploring the city for a bit, we decided to head up north and visit some wineries. One of the more convenient options to rent a car for the day isÂ the new Audi On Demand service, so we picked up an A4 and headed north.
Our first mode of transportation into San Francisco was an UberPoolÂ ride from Oakland airport, which came in at a thrifty $16. After weÂ explored the city by foot for a few days, I downloaded the Audi On Demand app to rentÂ a car. Once the app wasÂ installed, it took me about fiveÂ minutes to fill out myÂ license, insurance, and credit card information. I then hadÂ the option of selecting everything from a $120 a day A3 E-tron to a $1,235 a day R8 Spyder. My first instinct was to select the $190 a day S4, which would end up costing $115 when using their first time rental $75 off promo code, but it was unfortunately already booked.
I decided to rent an A4 instead.Â The app gave me an estimate of $76.13, after discount and including taxes and fees, for my rental period. I requested the vehicle be delivered at the curb of my hotel and was allowed to select a delivery time for two hours from booking.
Ten minutes before delivery, I received a text message informing me thatÂ my concierge Allen would be waiting at the corner of the curb of my hotel. We went out to meet him.
He introduced himself, confirmed he’d delivered the correctÂ vehicle, and told me he had taken photo and video for the damage pre-inspection. He confirmed some small wheel rash on one wheel and asked if I saw anything I wanted noted before the trip.
He asked for my license and credit card to confirm identity andÂ payment and identity, then offered to give me a 15 minute tour of the car and its features. He explained some basic features but I declined the full tour. He also told me the vehicle could return at the same fuel level or they would refill it at no additional cost using the average city fuel price.
The A4 was clean, polished, and came almost fully optioned out inÂ Premium Plus Quattro trim with Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. Inside, we found an iPhone cable waiting for us along with bottled water and an Audi magazine to read. I got comfortable in the seat quickly and we set out across the Golden GateÂ Bridge toward Calistoga.
Our hour-long trip was comfortable and fun. The A4 handled well, no doubt thanks to fairly new and competent tires. We arrived at our first winery tour and continued south until we reached our Airbnb in Napa that evening.
We booked theÂ Kimpton Sir Francis Drake on the other side of Union Square for the remainder of our time in the area and set that locationÂ for our Audi’s drop-off. We arrive about 15 minutes early and Allen was already waiting there. He asked about our experience and completed another photo and video walk around of the car. He bid us a good day and drove off in the A4. I received a set of emails from Audi On Demand a few minutes later with the first one containing the video and photos from the inspection and another containing the final bill, which showed he’dÂ added six gallons of fuel at $3.40 a gallon, bringing the final total to $96.53. The fuel price was fair considering I had seen prices for premium ranging from $2.89 to $3.99 around various areas of the city.
Once we arrivedÂ back, we explored other areas of the city mostly by foot but wanted to check out Muir Woods. Since we are not ones for organized tours, I decided to download the Getaround app and pick up a car for a few hours.
Getting set up in the app was easy and only required taking a picture of my license and credit card. I wanted something that would be fun to drive on the mountain leading to Muir Woods and first looked at a BMW 435i, but was dissuaded due to having to refuel it to full or face a large fee. Also, it needed to be re-parked on the street in a specific zone.
I found a few other cars but finally settled on Tesla Model S parked in a dedicated garage and only needed to be plugged back into a Chargepoint station upon return.
I selected a pickup time about 45 minutes out since we needed to walk to the garage. I received a text message duringÂ our walk from the owner telling me the exact location of the car and some parking options around the garage for our return. Once we found the car, I took some pictures of the car and noted in the app that all four wheels had curb rash. I hit the unlock button in the app and we were in the car and on our way out of the city.
The Model S was well maintained but showed its daily driver nature with a carpet that could use a vacuum and a screen that was full of fingerprints. It performed well and drove quite nicely all the way up to Muir Woods. Once we arrived back in the city, I pulled it back into the same garage and used the included ChargePoint card to connect to a charger. I texted the owner with the charging slot number and we were off to enjoy some Pho for dinner.
Our four-hour adventure with the Model S was a little more expensive than the day with the Audi,Â but still came to a reasonable $101. Both services were reasonably priced and â€” most importantly â€” easy to use since we did not have to worry about expensive overnight parking or if a car would get damaged on the street.[Images: Â© 2016 Bozi Tatarevic/The Truth About Cars]