“I think madhouse is probably a good way to describe it. We benefit in some ways from insanity. The problem is, in many cases, we just can’t find cars for people. “
– Jonathan Weinberg, CEO of AutoSlash.com, a website that aggregates car rental discounts
“They have a lot fewer cars than in 2019,” Weinberg said. “Even though the industry is down 80%, it has 30 to 40% fewer cars. Prices are skyrocketing. “
Many car rental companies moved inventory to Florida and other tourist locations earlier this year in an attempt to serve returning travelers, but the move failed in some places. During the February holiday weekends, 18 of Florida’s 20 airports were entirely out of cars, according to Weinberg.
Shortages can even vary by just a few kilometers. Weinberg said Orlando has performed better than some of the other states, although he points out rental prices range between $ 50 and $ 100 per day, more than double the average rates he saw in 2019. .
But Weinberg pointed out the Tampa-St. The Petersburg area is an “area of concern,” claiming weekend rentals from the Tampa airport cost up to $ 489 per day.
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Weinberg is not optimistic that the situation will improve in the short term.
“As March and April approach, people are starting to head north,” he said, meaning cars will have to head north as well. “Eventually, the demand will turn, and it will happen very quickly.”
Car rental companies are trying to rebuild their fleets, but buying new cars presents its own challenges. Several auto factories closed at the start of the pandemic, leaving auto dealerships and rental companies to compete for new cars off the line.
Then there is the global shortage of microchips. Production was hampered by the pandemic and was criticized again this year when the ice storm in Texas halted manufacturing and a fire in Japan delayed production at another factory.
These chips are essential components of new cars, which further restricts new inventory. The lack of supply has reached such a crisis that the White House called a summit to address the issue on Monday.
“I don’t think we’re going to see any relief come to this end for a long time,” Weinberg said.