With the increasing shortage of rental cars, “Carpocalypse” came to Canada

With the increasing shortage of rental cars, “Carpocalypse” came to Canada


When James Charles-Roberts booked a car in May, he and his family were looking forward to a two-week vacation in Southern California.

After the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented several attempts to visit Disneyland, the November holiday will be an opportunity for families in Victoria, British Columbia, to use before the theme park tickets expire.

However, when Charles Roberts called in June to advance his reservation for a seven-person Ford Explorer by one day, the rental cost almost tripled.

“I booked this car for $480, and when I called to request a change, the price was $1,286,” he said in an interview. “This is just a small change, so we decided to keep our first booking.”

The shortage of car rental — or “carpocalypse” in the United States — highlights the expected economic recovery to be bumpy, as supply chain issues make the supply and demand for car rental imbalance.

The problem started when almost all travel stopped when the COVID-19 lockdown and travel restrictions began.

The sharp decline in car rental bookings prompted the company to significantly reduce the size of its fleet and lay off employees.

Craig Hirota, Vice President of Government Relations and Member Services of the Canadian Car Rental Operators Association, said: “Due to the sharp decline in consumer demand, most (if not all) car rental operators in the world have During the epidemic, the fleet was significantly reduced.

“No one goes on vacation, corporate travel basically does not exist. It leaves a lot of unused vehicles.”

high demand

Now, the situation has reversed. As the economy reopened and demand picked up, Global semiconductor shortage Paralyze car production and cause long-term delays in new cars and trucks.

“The car rental industry has been unable to supply their fleets,” Hirota said. “They just can’t buy a car.”

Enterprise Holdings, the US parent company of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental, and Alamo Rent A Car, stated that the chip shortage “has affected the supply and delivery of new cars across the industry when demand is already high.”

The company added in an emailed statement that it “is working hard to secure more vehicles to meet the growing travel demand and support customers’ broader transportation needs.”

The remaining prices skyrocket

At the same time, in the context of tight supply and increasing demand, car rental operators are raising prices.

“I think there will definitely be some price fraud,” Charles Roberts said of his experience trying to change car bookings at Los Angeles Airport.

The entire industry’s car rental squeeze has been in full swing in the United States, and stories of tourists wandering around renting U-Haul mobile trucks or private cars from locals continue to emerge.

When demand plummeted in 2020, car rental companies cut their fleets, and now they can’t increase quickly to meet demand. (Charles Platio/Reuters)

It is expected that Canada’s problems will worsen this summer, especially in regions that rely heavily on tourism.

Many airports in East Coast cities such as Halifax, Charlottetown and St. John’s were almost sold out this summer’s weekend.

“This impact is everywhere-at least in popular tourist attractions in Canada and the United States,” CAA Atlantic senior vice president of marketing and communications Gary Howard said in an email.

He said: “Most of the fleet is rented, so at the peak of the COVID, the fleet is shrinking.” “Now it’s back, but the car rental company cannot retrieve enough vehicles in the fleet.”

Although the shortage of car rentals in tourist destinations is expected to become more serious, prices are rising across the country.

Allyson Rowley, a Hamilton resident, said she often rents a car for long trips and visits family.

In 2019, she said that she usually pays about $30 a day, and this amount climbs to about $40 in 2020. But Rowley said she had just booked the car for two weeks in August at a price of $61.52 per day.

“The cost has doubled since before the pandemic,” she said. “I made an ethical and financial choice not to own a car, because I mainly walk and ride a bicycle, and only rent a car when I need it, but now I can’t afford it.”

Experts say that for travelers who wish to rent a car this summer, it is important to book early, search for locations outside the airport, and be prepared to pay more than usual.

It may also need alternatives to car rentals, such as car sharing or public transportation, because they said the shortage is not expected to ease soon.

“If you plan to travel, we encourage you to book a vehicle as early as possible,” Enterprise Holdings said. “Providing flexible travel dates and branch pickup locations in the search may help increase your options.”

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