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In the US, rental cars become rare and expensive

He paid $ 600 for two days of car rental, double his plane ticket: Like many Americans, Joe Pohlen, a Michigan businessman, is shocked at this unexpected consequence of the outbreak of the pandemic.

A single agency had a vehicle available, Hertz, explains to AFP. He chose “the cheapest option possible” but the bill came to $ 601.59 for a vehicle he picked up in Baltimore, Maryland, and returned in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, two days later.

Not only have rental car prices skyrocketed in the United States, but it’s sometimes hard to just get a vehicle.

In Hawaii, some desperate tourists ended up renting moving vans, according to local media.

Rental agencies cannot respond to the demand as they come from a difficult period during the pandemic, when tourists and professionals suddenly stopped traveling.

To cut costs, they sold vehicles and avoided buying new units. Avis, for example, indicated last February that it reduced its fleet by 31%.

But with the rapid advance of the vaccination campaign in the United States and the progressive lifting of restrictions on mobility, consumers have returned to the taste for traveling.

“Like the rest of the industry,” Enterprise “faces a growing demand for vehicles for” boreal spring and summer holidays, “particularly in popular tourist destinations,” a spokesperson told AFP.

As of March, the demand increased in areas such as Florida, Arizona or in the ski resorts of Utah, said the president of Avis, Joseph Ferraro, during a conference call on Tuesday.

– Sale to individuals –

The semiconductor shortage that disrupts vehicle production lines exacerbated the situation.

Manufacturers prefer to sell their vehicles to individuals, who pay more than car rental companies, who must adapt.

“One of the positive aspects of this pandemic is that our vehicles do not have so many kilometers traveled,” said Ferraro. The group also focuses on maintaining a fleet of cars that should last longer.

But “getting into a vehicle that is three or four years old, with 50,000 to 80,000 km on the odometer, which does not necessarily have the usual options, could affect the perception of the brand,” said Ivan Drury, from the specialized site Edmunds, in particular. if the client paid much more expensive than usual.

That’s why Enterprise advises its customers to “book early” and try to be flexible about pickup dates and locations.

Adding in high prices for airfare, lodging, and car rentals, some forgo traveling to certain destinations.

For some businesses like Turo, which directly contact individuals to rent vehicles, this is a good time.

“We are happy that a record number of travelers discover the incredible hospitality of the Turo owners” and their “value for money”, congratulated the owner of the firm, André Haddad, in a message to AFP.

An ER nurse in Los Angeles, Bobby Binissa has been offering three cars at Turo since the beginning of the year.

“My Tesla has always been reserved for two months and until the end of May,” he explained to AFP. When his family does not need them, he also offers two other slightly older vehicles.

“I raised my prices because of” growing demand, “but I can’t go too high because I have to be competitive” against other offers on the site, he said.

jum / alb / mr / gma

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