Jun 1, 2021
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Good Luck Getting a Rental Car Any Time Soon

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Unless you enjoy paying $1,000 for it.

Photo by Haidan on Unsplash

If you’ve tried to rent a car any time recently, you might’ve had a case of sticker shock when you saw the price.

I just got back from a week-long trip in Hawaii and had multiple locals ask me how much trouble I had renting a car. Luckily, I was able to borrow my friend’s car, but others may not be in the same boat.

If you remember back to the beginning of the pandemic, you might recall seeing a headline or two about how Hertz was selling off almost a quarter-million of their rental cars.

Hertz found themselves in hot water when the rental car market completely tanked at the beginning of the pandemic, and they had many debts to repay.

Other companies weren’t in as much financial trouble as Hertz, but they also quietly sold off a portion of their fleet because demand was low.

Fast forward to the present day, and the world is beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel with the pandemic. Businesses are reopening, travel is resuming, and when there’s travel, there’s demand for rental cars.

The problem is, though, that it turns out to be much easier to sell off rental cars than to get new ones.

Seemingly overnight, the demand for rental cars skyrocketed, and so did the price. Now, a rental car that might’ve cost you a few hundred dollars in normal conditions costs you a few thousand.

While rental car companies are certainly scrambling to assemble a fleet of vehicles to deal with the sudden spike in demand, it’s not at all bad news for them.

While the companies can’t please the full number of customers that they’d like to, they are making a pretty penny off of the few that they can.

For a lot of people, renting a car is the only option when traveling. They are prepared to pay the price, almost no matter what it is. Even better, business travelers likely aren’t even paying on their own dime, so it doesn’t matter to them what the price is.

However, the bad news for rental car companies like Enterprise, Hertz, and others, is that consumers will now be looking for alternatives.

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

We’ve already seen companies like Uber blow the taxi business out of the water. We all know that AirBnB has seriously disrupted the hotel business.

Now, it’s companies like Turo and Getaround who are coming to rip the rental car industry to shreds.

That’s because these apps are people sharing their personal vehicles, not a corporate fleet. They didn’t sell off their inventory of rental cars when the market took a dive, because they still use their rental cars.

On Turo, I can get a rental car at the Seattle airport from June 8th to 10th for as low as $50 per day.

I searched the same date range on Enterprise, and there was 0 availability.

Often, you can even find better cars on Turo than you can with rental companies like Enterprise or Hertz, and you won’t show up expecting a pickup truck and be given a Hyundai Sonata.

Here in Seattle on Turo, you can rent a Polaris Slingshot for $184 per day, a Tesla Model X for $127 per day, and even a Nissan GT-R for $225 per day.

When I was in Hawaii a week ago, there was a Jeep Wrangler on Turo that included beach chairs and a cooler. You can’t beat that with the old-school companies.

What this ultimately means for rental companies is that they need to work triple time, and they should be very, very worried.

The longer this rental car shortage goes on, the more likely it is for a loyal Hertz customer to look for alternatives and discover apps like Turo or Getaround.

Every single day that this goes on, the old-school companies are losing hundreds of customers around the world to the new-school apps.

While it’s true that AirBnB didn’t fully kill the hotel business and Uber didn’t fully kill the taxi business, they both have left significant dents in the industry. Companies like Turo and Getaround are about to do the same to rental cars.

Innovation is very fun to watch, and I get some thrill out of watching old-school companies panic as the new-school competition comes in.

Are Turo and Getaround perfect? No, I never said they were. But they are an incredibly strong competitor, and this rental car shortage is giving them a very significant boost.

When you need to rent a car again, give Turo or Getaround a try, and you might save some money. Or just go get a U-Haul van, because I saw multiple people who did that while I was in Hawaii.

This article is not sponsored by, affiliated with, or endorsed by any of the companies mentioned. I have my personal preferences and showed that in my writing. This is also in no way financial advice, I’m not a professional, and you should only spend money after making your own judgements and consulting your own professionals.

Article Categories:
Airbnb · apps · Business · car-rental · uber

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