Hoping to rent a car this summer?  good luck |  CBC News

Hoping to rent a car this summer? good luck | CBC News

Taylor Ruggers and her partner, Will Perry, were looking forward to their Newfoundland honeymoon this summer before realizing they had no way of getting around the county.

The couple, who live in Port Hope, Ontario, tried to book a car again in February for a trip they had planned to take in late June but had no luck.

“I probably called five or six places, then called anything online I could find, and they [all had] “Nothing is available,” Rugers said.

The lack of rental cars means that the Raggers will not be able to explore the original Perry County and get to know family members who live there. Instead, the couple will hit the road with their own car for an even closer destination: Nova Scotia.

“Did he really want to show me where his family was from,” she said. “And I really wanted to see Newfoundland. It’s big on my luggage list.”

Taylor Ruggers, right, and her partner, Will Perry, left, with their daughter Delilah Perry, were planning to fly to Newfoundland in June for their honeymoon, but were unable to find a car rental in the county. So they decided to drive their own car to Nova Scotia instead. (dawn of hope)

History repeats itself with the return of “Carboglobal” last summer. With increased travel and more Canadians planning to move out this summer as the pandemic subsides, car rental companies are trying to secure more vehicles, said Craig Hirota, vice president of government relations and member services at Associated Canadian Car Rental Operators.

“Our best estimates show that we are probably still 15 to 20 percent below our pre-pandemic numbers,” Hirota said.

Where is my chip?

Earlier this month, Statistics Canada released the first in a series of reports on the car rental industry, with the first focusing on British Columbia.

The report found that the size of the county’s rental car fleets fell more than 30 percent in 2020. And while the fleets began to recover in 2021, they haven’t returned to anywhere near pre-pandemic levels as companies struggle to find vehicles.

The slow production of new cars is a major contributor to the car rental shortage. Automakers are piling production as they continue to face shortages of semiconductor chips, a necessary part of digital technology.

“This was exacerbated by the fact that our industry had to reduce our fleets…when demand fell in March 2020,” Hirota said, the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Montreal-based rental car company AutoPlateau faces this delicate challenge. Gabriel Raymond, who works for his family-owned business, said it had to downsize its fleet when the pandemic hit. Now, as the company tries to expand, Raymond said it’s hard to find cars.

“Car manufacturers are running out of car chips. So car dealers are running out. So car rental companies are not able to renew their fleet,” he said.

Gabriel Raymond, right, with his grandfather, AutoPlateau owner Rodrigue Desrosiers, says the rental car company helps customers who are struggling to find rental cars elsewhere. (CBC)

But Raymond said the company has been able to make up the shortfall as it keeps the vehicles longer, and is choosing to repair them rather than replace them.

Despite the lack of a marketing budget, he said, AutoPlateau has attracted customers who weren’t so fortunate to secure their rental car elsewhere.

“that it [stressful] “Because we have a huge demand coming from everywhere we wouldn’t have otherwise because we are a small business,” Raymond said, adding that the company relies on word of mouth to attract customers.

The shortage of rents has led to a significant increase in the cost of renting a car. According to Statistics Canada, car rental prices increased by 30 percent in 2021, while the overall inflation rate was stable at 3.4 percent.

Hirota said the higher cost of renting a car is partly because demand is outstripping supply, and inflation is raising the cost of cars and repairs.

Planning to travel this summer

With summer approaching and most coronavirus restrictions lifted across the country, tourism is expected to pick up again. The World Trade and Tourism Council predicts that the contribution to GDP from Canada’s travel and tourism sector could rebound to C$157 billion in 2023, just 0.8 percent below pre-pandemic levels.

That means more travelers, like Taylor Ragers, will be looking to grab a rental car.

Raymond advises travelers hoping to rent a car this summer to make plans as soon as possible and beware of companies that overbook.

“Overbooking, especially in [a] The high demand period means that they will save more customers on the same car.”

Some travelers are also turning to a less traditional transportation option: car sharing.

Similar to Airbnb, car sharing services allow people to rent out their cars to others. US car-sharing company Turo says its services are helping customers secure vehicles amid a shortage of rentals.

“What we are seeing is our Turo hosts stepping in to fill the void,” said Cedric Mathew, Vice President and President of Canada at Turo.

Mathieu said the peer-to-peer car-sharing model is more flexible than the fleet-car model, which faces challenges when it needs to increase or decrease the number of vehicles available for rent.

Cedric Mathew is Vice President and President of Canada at Turo, a US-based car sharing company. Turo currently has more than 50,000 vehicles available in more than 350 cities across Canada. (CBC)

“With the demand growing again, we can acquire and persuade more hosts to join,” he said.

Turo currently has more than 50,000 vehicles available in more than 350 cities across the country. Recently, the company has expanded to Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

As for how long to expect a recovery in the car rental industry, Hirota of Associated Canadian Car Rental Operators said it’s hard to predict, given how quickly things could change. But as automakers continue to ramp up production, he said challenges are likely to persist in the next two years.

“I think getting the vehicles over the next year and maybe next year after that will still be a challenge,” he said.

2022-05-21 08:00:00

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