As the echo of the crisis in 2020 continues, attention was focused on 2021 as the year that will boost the recovery from the pandemic car rental pandemic.

After a 37% decline in 2020, the industry regained momentum in 2021, regaining 37% during the year.

In 2022, a more sustained period of growth is projected, with gains offset by continuing barriers to fleet growth and a slowdown in vehicle production.

Look forward

There was an intensified conversation about the future of sustainable tourism in the tourism industry, and within car rental, the future of sustainable fleets. According to the latest Focuswright travel study Report on the US car rental market 2021-2025some key steps have been taken to include greener options.

In 3Q21, Hertz announced that it had ordered 100,000 Teslas to make electric vehicles (EVs) a significant part of the global fleet, although it is estimated that about half of the vehicles will be delivered to Uber drivers. The partnership has major implications for the future of mobility in general, as detailed by Auto Rental News.

Avis and Enterprise have expressed their intention to develop as part of their EV strategies, although they remain in more early stages of their plans. Enterprise has launched a selection of electric vehicles in test markets and is still collecting data on how they are driven and charged by consumers. Restrictions on charging stations and driving ranges remain major problems with electric vehicles, and infrastructure improvements will also be needed to stimulate wider acceptance.

Conditions in 2021 proved to be optimal for Turo; after a strong performance in the calendar year, they filed for IPO in January 2022. While leading rental companies struggled to replenish and expand their fleets, Turo had the unique advantage of sourcing inventory from the consumer market as an equal partner platform for rental. Sales increased during the calendar year, with the company reporting a 207% increase in revenue in Q1-Q3 2021 compared to 2020. (Note that losses also increased with the increase in operations.)

New openings

Although unconventional, there is reason for optimism about the model. Turo has minimal equipment and overhead costs compared to legacy companies that own and operate their fleets. Increasing the availability of their fleet requires recruiting car owners instead of buying vehicles directly. They remain small compared to other big players, but low overheads could provide a basis for healthier financial operations than their inherited competitors.

However, fleet management is a complex undertaking; in the not-too-distant future, legacy rental companies will be well positioned to manage upcoming fleets of autonomous and electric vehicles as charging infrastructure expands and these vehicles become more common as rental. They may also be prepared to drive even larger fleets in the future, expanding beyond car rental and driving, as the line between vehicle ownership and rental / sharing is blurred (as speculated in 2018).

The car rental market will see changes in reservations as international travel continues to return. There may be an influx of international visitors to destinations in the United States, thus increasing business. Or US travelers could choose to travel abroad in times of higher trust, which potentially reduces business. Nevertheless, the market is expected to experience a net positive momentum in the coming years.

As online bookings are recovering at a faster rate than offline, it is important for travel companies to know what motivates this segment. Consumers are eager to travel, and rental cars remain a more private and safe form of transit for COVID, both between and within destinations, compared to public transport.

This informs the larger industry about consumer trends and behavior that all travel companies need to want to understand. And it all starts with this report.

Find out more …

This new research report provides a comprehensive look at the US car rental segment, including detailed market sizes and forecasts, distribution trends, key developments and more.

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