It was that reserving a rental automobile was an afterthought, the very last thing a traveler did earlier than taking a visit.
This 12 months, it is best to make it the primary.
In latest weeks, vacationers have reported charges topping $500 a day in scorching spots like Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Costs are additionally excessive — and automobile availability restricted — throughout Florida and in Alaska, the place Anchorage airport companies are offered out for the summer season.
A recent study by CheapCarRental.net discovered rental automobile charges throughout the U.S. averaging about 30 % greater than final Might, whereas in Hawaii and Florida they’re up by greater than 50 %.
And the issue will probably worsen.
Journey consultants and rental firms say a number of elements are fueling the surge, all associated to the pandemic.
In latest months, vaccinations have sparked a travel boom as extra individuals take to the skies to go to associates and households, and plan holidays.
However this comes at a time that rental fleets have shrunk. When demand dropped final 12 months throughout the pandemic, firms offered off a big proportion of their rental fleets to lift money. Auto sellers and gross sales facilities gladly snapped up these choices attributable to a scarcity of used automobiles. That leaves rental firms scrambling to seek out autos to ramp up provide, says Lauren Repair, editor in chief of Automotive Coach Stories.
A scarcity of semiconductor chips utilized in high-tech automotive methods, in addition to a shortage of rubber and metal, has slowed auto vegetation and the manufacturing of recent automobiles. “Fleet gross sales are final in line, so it has been troublesome to rapidly ramp up fleets to match demand,” says Mark Mannell, CEO of CarRentalSavers.com.
Like many corporations, Enterprise Holdings, which runs Alamo, Enterprise and Nationwide, says it is discovering it onerous to accumulate new automobiles because of the semiconductor chip scarcity.
“We proceed to work intently with our manufacturing companions to safe further autos,” the corporate mentioned in an announcement. “If you happen to’re planning journey, we encourage you to order a automobile as early as attainable. Offering versatile journey dates and department pickup places in your search may assist improve your choices.”
Jonathan Weinberg, CEO of AutoSlash.com, was one of many first to establish the issue again in February, when he warned of a coming “automobile rental apocalypse.” He expects it to worsen within the coming months, citing Montana — anticipated to be a massively fashionable vacation spot this summer season — for instance.
Automotive rental companies on the airport serving Glacier National Park in Kalispell, Montana, are utterly offered out for the summer season, he says. And the issue has spilled over to airports greater than 100 miles away, in locations like Missoula and Bozeman, as vacationers search for different rental choices throughout the area. The identical factor is going on in Alaska.
As a result of that demand, costs are hovering.
“Costs are on the highest ranges I’ve seen in my 15 years of monitoring rental charges,” Weinberg says.
Costs at present vary from about $100 per day for Memorial Day weekend in Florida to as much as $609 a day in Puerto Rico, he says.
However not all areas of the nation have an issue. Availability differs market to market, and week to week. For instance, automobiles are cheap and available this spring in locations like El Paso, Texas; Sacramento, California; and Rochester, New York.
Nonetheless, consultants anticipate the scarcity to proceed for many of the 12 months in locations catering to vacationers.