A continued shortage of rental cars – accompanied by price spikes in the summer – means that if you want to book a ride, you need to do it now, experts say.
“It’s kind of random,” Nicole Saindon said.
Saindon regularly orders rental cars from Winnipeg’s Richardson International Airport for his employer, a concrete contractor whose staff visits job sites in northern Manitoba, among other places.
“Last week I tried to rent (a vehicle) and they literally had nothing. I couldn’t find anything,” Saindon said.
She reserved a vehicle on Tuesday through National Car Rental, where her company enjoys a corporate discount. Normally, she could try an SUV. Now she’s not picky.
“Last week I tried to rent (a vehicle) and they literally had nothing. I couldn’t find anything. –Nicole Saindon
“I just try to get everything I can,” she said.
The shortage of rental cars is not new to Saindon. Last summer she went to Victoria, British Columbia and couldn’t find any wheels, she said.
“It definitely…pays to book ahead because at least you have a chance of getting something,” she said.
The pressure on the industry is not expected to ease this summer. On Wednesday, Enterprise’s website showed no vehicle availability at the Charlottetown airport for the entire month of July and most of August. The website had a similar lack of stock at Vancouver airport and St. John’s, NL.
“Like the rest of the industry, the Enterprise Holdings brands (Enterprise, National and Alamo) continue to see increased demand for vehicles to support travel across Canada,” an Enterprise Holdings spokesperson wrote. in a press release.
“We expect demand to continue to increase in early spring and summer.”
Vans, pickups, convertibles and SUVs are popular, the spokesperson said. Booking a vehicle as early as possible is “essential”, they added.
“Already in December, we are seeing reservations coming in,” said Susan Postma, regional manager at CAA Manitoba.
The travel company has noticed “pockets of availability” when helping customers rent vehicles, she said. Travel planning is on the rise, she added.
The high season – June, July and August – is currently the most difficult to rent.
“My recommendation would definitely be to book now,” Postma said. “You can always look closer to the start for other opportunities, whether it’s price or vehicle type.”
“My recommendation would definitely be to book now. You can always look closer to the start for other opportunities, whether it’s price or vehicle type. – Susan Postma, CAA Manitoba
Rental costs are rising. For example, a full-size car from Hertz, for pickup at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport on Wednesday, was about $782.25 for a week. The same vehicle at the same location was estimated at $1,357.32 from July 11-18, if reserved and paid for by Wednesday. The total rose to around $1,428.27 if paid later.
“Reserve your vehicle as early as possible to lock in prices, as they are likely to rise,” said Craig Hirota, vice president of government relations and member services for Associated Canadian Car Rental Operators.
The rental car shortage is relative to consumer demand, Hirota said. Rental car brands began to come under pressure last April: parts of Canada began easing public health restrictions and people began to travel more, but companies had already sold off much of their fleets .
“(Vehicles) weren’t rented and (companies) needed money,” Hirota said of the first outbreak of COVID-19.
Gabby is a huge fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.
Read the full biography