Fleet News

Daily rental shortage impacting fleet operations, says AFP

row of cars

Fleets are facing a wide range of problems caused a by a shortage in short-term car and van rental, says the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP).

The issue, according to AFP director James Pestell, is that daily rental companies defleeted large numbers of vehicles during the pandemic and, because of the semiconductor shortage affecting car and van production, have found difficulty in replacing them.

“Even when they can get stock, they are having to pay something closer to list price, which has not historically been their business model,” he said.

“As a result, fleets have found themselves in a situation where booking rental is very difficult, prices are rising quite quickly and, even if you can get hold of a vehicle, the supplying company will often ask for it back at some point to fulfil other pre-existing bookings.”

It is becoming a major issue for fleet operators who actually need more cars and vans from rental companies, because of the same vehicle production issues.

Pestell explained that problems reported by AFP members were widespread and varied.

“Having to delay servicing and repairs is an issue, because relief vehicles are often unavailable while cars and vans are off the road,” he said. “Clearly, this has operational implications from a risk management point of view that require careful handling.

“Similarly, there are few rental vehicles to provide a fallback when breakdowns occur, meaning downtime is becoming a more serious problem, interrupting fleet operations and adding to costs over time.

“Also, getting hold of rental vehicles for use by new starters while waiting for their company car to be delivered is tricky, especially for the kind of timescales that are now needed with new vehicle waiting times often tipping into 6-12 months.”

Pestell acknowledged that there was no immediate solution to the problem in sight and that effective fleet management strategies were few.

“Probably the single most effective thing that fleets can do is to hang on to some of the vehicles they would normally defleet to use as pool vehicles in place of rental provision, but that in itself creates problems with keeping them in a roadworthy condition while they are often not stored in the locations where they are ultimately needed,” he said.

“The underlying problem is that there are simply too few vehicles around and, until production issues are resolved, the situation will persist.”

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  • Sage & Onion - 27/04/2022 12:35

    We have parked all our old vans that we would normally have disposed of at strategic depots around the country for our staff to use when they would normally have needed a hire van. We just couldn't continue to operate with hire bookings that are confirmed but are then turned down at the last minute, nor could we accept a minimum 3 or 6 day rental fee for a 1 or 2 day rental requirement. It is working well for us and it may become the normal thing to do long term instead of relying on daily rental vans because the vans are all liveried and kitted out to our spec too. The way used prices are holding, any loss in RV is going to be offset by less expense on daily rental, but it is the inconvenience and management time saved when we get let down at the last minute where the real benefits lie.

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