What’s caused the rental car shortage? Can I still rent a vehicle?

Let us start off by saying yes, you can certainly still rent vehicles – ground transportation is just experiencing it’s own challenges at the moment. No different than any other part of our industry, or the rest of the world for that matter.As with anything in life, you have to ask yourself why? Unfortunately there’s no one answer where we can point and say, “this is the reason”. However, we have collected the top contributing factors for us to better understand what our partners in this area are currently up against.

Fleet Downsizing

With the initial signs of the pandemic alerting a near full stop to the travel industry, our rental suppliers were forced to sit on their inventory. Without much in the way of reservations in the foreseeable future, many made the tough decision of selling off parts of their fleets to save on maintenance costs and reduce potential losses. 

This would’ve included the larger sized, non-typical rentals, which is why we are seeing mid-sized and compact cars with the best availability.

Supply Chain, Microchip Shortage

Yes, the supply chain issues of our very connected world are persisting. With large amounts of their make-up being electronic, the new vehicle backlog really is stemming from the microchip shortage as it’s a key ingredient to their production. 

Coupled with rental companies only keep their vehicles for 1-2 years before replacing them, this is likely going to be prevalent for the rest of 2022 and beyond.

Increased Demand, Same Supply

More people are back on the road again, with numbers reaching pre-pandemic levels since restrictions began to ease. For some, travelling by road was the only option for more than 6 months, which took would-be air customers out of the sky. This, coupled with the previous points, highlight the somewhat “perfect storm” of the rental vehicle market right now.

Like all other areas of travel that are feeling the effects of increased demand, there are, of course, ways for you to mitigate the challenges you may experience. We’ve outlined 5 things you can do when planning your next trip:

  1. Book ahead where possible

This is the number one approach across the board, especially if you will be travelling during a high season or to an area with any large events. Reserving ahead of time is the best way to ensure lower pricing and availability of your desired vehicle.

  1. Be flexible on vehicle type where possible

We all have our preferences, especially if we travel frequently – we know what we like. Though right now, rental companies have limited supplies of “less typical vehicles”. Intermediate or mid-sized cars are what we are seeing the best availability for, whereas SUVs and trucks are harder to come by.

If you have the ability to size down, go for it – you might save a bit on fuel anyway!

  1. Avoid One-Way drops

One way drops occur when you pick up in on location and drop off in another. This may seem like a simple process on the surface, wouldn’t the 2nd location just start using that vehicle now? Unfortunately it’s more complicated than that. 

Often times the initial rental location requires that vehicle back, so this process usually involved flying or transporting a representative from the rental company to drive the vehicle back to their store. This is why you will see a larger price tag attached to these types of requests, to recoup some of the costs.

  1. Airport locations for pick up

Another area where we’re seeing greater availability is at airport locations, which makes sense since this is where most of the demand is coming from. Those properties also have longer hours, which allows for more flexibility when you need to pick up or drop off during outside of those “banking hours”.

  1. Car service is an option

Just like with air travel, many individuals have been electing to go the private route with hiring a car service. On the surface it may sound more expensive but depending on your actual transportation needs and frequency with which you need to get around, pricing comparison might surprise you!


Whatever your reason for needing ground transportation, know it can be done just with a little extra thought and attention to elements of your travels. Being prepared for what might come is important, as this allows us to have a back up plan and mitigate any delays to our travels.

One of the best ways to be prepared is having a dedicated expert, such as Elite Travel, in your pocket. Whether you need help during or after hours, our team is there for you every step of the way. 

Have more questions about your rental car program? Let’s chat!

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