Why rental cars are so expensive and so scarce this summer

It's the year or never to discover the public transport of Crete, Corsica and the Balearic Islands. These island destinations in high demand this summer are the hardest hit by a worldwide shortage of rental cars that has driven prices to very high levels.

" Never seen ", believes Pierre Feisthauer, development manager at Carigami, a specialized price comparator. For reservations made in May and June, in view of the summer holidays, the average price in France was 494 euros per week: double that of 2019. “We are in a spiral which has lasted since May 2021 and which has only worsened. We see no reason to be positive for next year”, explains Feisthauer. Due to a lack of reasonable offers and prices, reservations have halved on Carigami, compared to 2019.

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Among travel agents who market tailor-made tours, the price of the car has become a major criterion of choice. “This is what will determine whether the destination is financially possiblepoints out Myriam Tord, adviser to the Versailles Voyages agency. We try to suggest alternatives, such as in Malta, where the transport network is very good, or to rent a car elsewhere than at the airport. » In other countries where the car is almost indispensable – in North America, Iceland, even in Italy – there is no other solution than to rent a top-of-the-range car, or to resign yourself. The shortage particularly hits the islands, but no destination escapes the phenomenon.

From fleet resale to the semiconductor crisis

You have to go back to March 2020 to understand the current situation. In the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic, rental companies massively reduced their stocks of cars, the immobilization of which is costly. After the summer of 2020, without the slightest perspective on the evolution of the pandemic and with limited cash, they place minimal orders for the following year. Demand will however rebound strongly in the spring, generating the first difficulties in the summer of 2021.

At the same time, on the side of the manufacturers, the shortage of semiconductors is worsening, these chips manufactured mainly in Asia, where the slightest outbreak of an epidemic causes the closure of factories. The war in Ukraine, which began on February 24, ends up complicating the situation, since the country is home to many subcontractors and the conflict increases the tension on essential metals, palladium and nickel. In the spring, the re-containment of the Shanghai region in China, a hub for global container ships, further disrupted the builders' supply chain.

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