Like so many things during the COVID-19 pandemic, rental cars seemingly vanished overnight. The ongoing shortage of vehicles has sent some rental prices into the stratosphere.
Now, average car owners hope to get in on the action.
Axios reports that everyday people are buying up “small fleets of automobiles” and charging hefty prices to rent them to travelers in their area.
In one example Axios cites, it will cost you a whopping $500 to rent a Ford Fiesta hatchback from Budget for a mid-October weekend in Boston. Or, you can pay the same rate and get a Maserati Quattroporte from car-sharing site Turo.
As we have reported, car rental companies sold off large numbers of vehicles during the height of the pandemic because they had few — if any — customers. But once life returned to a sense of normalcy, the rental companies were caught with too many customers and not enough cars.
Supply chain issues have made it tough for rental agencies to find new cars to replenish their fleets. So, the law of supply and demand has sent car rental prices through the roof. In fact, the inflation rate for rental car and truck prices, as measured by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, rose 52.6% between August 2020 and August 2021.
Everyday car owners noticed the rise in prices. Some of them are making their own profits by loaning out vehicles on Turo and other car-sharing sites.
For example, Axios reports that Lazaro Vento of Miami lists 22 vehicles for rent. In one recent month, he made $30,000 in profits.
Vento also manages close to 100 Airbnb properties, and he sometimes packages them with his Turo cars. As he tells Axios:
“When you get to a place, the car is waiting for you — it really makes you feel like a VIP.”