Like many things during the COVID-19 pandemic, rental cars seem to have disappeared overnight. The persistent shortage of cars has pushed some rental prices into the stratosphere.
Now, ordinary car owners are hoping to get in on the action.
Axios reports that ordinary people buy “small fleets of cars” and charge exorbitant prices to rent them to travelers in their area.
In one example Axios cites, it would cost you $500 to rent a Ford Fiesta hatchback from Budget for a mid-October weekend in Boston. Or you can pay the same price and get a Maserati Quattroporte from car sharing site Turo.
As we reported, car rental companies sold large numbers of vehicles during the height of the pandemic because they had few – if any – customers. But once life returned to normal, the rental companies found plenty of customers and fewer cars.
Supply chain issues have made it difficult for rental agencies to find new vehicles to renew their fleets. Therefore, the law of supply and demand has led to higher car rental prices. In fact, the rate of inflation in car and truck rental prices, according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, increased by 52.6% between August 2020 and August 2021.
Everyday car owners note the high prices. Some of them are making profits themselves by lending vehicles on Turo and other car-sharing sites.
For example, Axios reports that Miami’s Lazaro Vento lists 22 vehicles for rent. In one recent month, he made $30K in profits.
Vento also manages nearly 100 properties on Airbnb, and sometimes even bundles them with his Turo cars. As he says to Axios:
“When you get somewhere, the car is waiting for you – it really makes you feel like you’re an important person.”
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