Fuel Prices Shifting Rental Preferences

Samir Syed
by Samir Syed
fuel prices shifting rental preferences

Back when fuel was below $3 a gallon, renting a car was like playing Wheel of Fortune. Though you usually got the car you rented, once in awhile, a big prize like an SUV or a Cadillac DeVille came up. ABC News reports that rental customers are now avoiding upgrades to bigger cars and SUVs because of high fuel prices. In turn, they've created a shortage of rental compacts, forcing rental companies to respond with more aggressive tactics to "upgrade" the customer to bigger and more fuel-thirsty options. The oversupply's sending SUVs daily rental rates downward, to the point where renting an SUV is becoming cheaper than renting a compact. As ABC notes: "an Internet search by ABC News this week found Budget Rent A Car offering a daily rental of an intermediate SUV from Newark airport in New Jersey for $66. An economy vehicle was $76, and a compact car cost $77." [NB: TTAC could not duplicate these deals on AVIS.com or Nationalcar.com.] One frequent renter has a word of advise for rental car companies: deal. "[They] need to anticipate what's coming. If Avis came up tomorrow and said, 'Our vehicles are fuel-efficient vehicles,' they'd see a surge in people wanting to rent from Avis." Oops! Looks like Hertz's Green Collection PR team dropped the ball.

Join the conversation
4 of 20 comments
  • Willbodine Willbodine on Jun 30, 2008

    Seems like the fuel costs would impact the holiday traveller more than the business person. Funny thing is, if you will be doing mostly highway miles, a Buick Lucerne gets about the same mileage as a Cobalt, 30 mpg. If doing mostly urban driving, then the shitbox would use less gas.

  • Rtz Rtz on Jun 30, 2008

    If I was shown that list of vehicles, I'd ask if they had anything else while looking over at the other rental places.. It sucks getting a dull, crappy rental car. Had far to many of them to the point where I'll pay a bit more to have something decent to drive.

  • AnswerMan AnswerMan on Jun 30, 2008

    I just rented a mid size from Hertz for 40 a day a full size SUV was 97 a day! I let you know if they upgrade me at the counter!!

  • Mercury_diSABLEd Mercury_diSABLEd on Jul 01, 2008

    lol. I'm loving this article's picture. Every single one of those vehicles is a Chrysler product except for the Economy category, and that's because Chrysler does not make a vehicle in this class.