By on September 23, 2019

If you’re a frequent car renter, odds are good that you’re not enthralled with the experience. That goes double if you aren’t putting payments on a corporate account because you’re weighing the price against what you actually need. Most of the time this leaves you ping-ponging between a dirt-cheap “compact” that’s technically a subcompact and a slightly larger “midsize” that costs an extra twelve dollars per day.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There are countless ways to trick rental agencies into giving you a free upgrade and plenty of programs that reward repeat customers for their loyalty, but you can also bite the bullet and simply splurge for a vehicle you might actually want to drive. Most companies have special divisions offering exotic, performance, and premium luxury models. But only Hertz will let you rent a specially designed, 750-horsepower Chevrolet Camaro.  (Read More…)

By on September 11, 2019

We’ve all been there at one time or another — standing in line at the counter of the rental car company. Perhaps you made a reservation in advance, perhaps not, but your fate was sealed the same when a class of vehicle was selected. From there, you were left in the hands of the person working the counter at Rental Car Incorporated.

Today we’re going to talk about the times you’ve lost at rental car roulette.

(Read More…)

By on August 15, 2018

While the process of renting a car is frequently obnoxious, the actual vehicles are incredible. Assuming you get damage protection, you can basically do whatever you want to them. These vehicles are the prostitutes of the automotive world, willing to engage in activities too explicit for the model that currently lives in your garage. The only limitations are dictated by your own twisted imagination and how much you’re willing to spend.

That bar for vehicular perversion just got a little higher over at Hertz, which is celebrating 100 years in the car rental business. The company is offering a special edition Chevrolet Corvette Z06 to customers in select cities. Fortunately, you probably live near one and will be able to take the custom Vette to an abandoned parking lot in the middle of the night and absolutely destroy its rear tires or drive it over a poorly maintained road a little faster than you should.  (Read More…)

By on June 7, 2018

It seems like lately I’ve developed a habit of reviewing vehicles on the verge of being replaced by a brand new generation. And by habit, I mean one review. But it seemed fitting when the local Enterprise location handed me keys to a “Full Size” and it turned out to be the soon-to-depart, current-generation Nissan Altima.

With a new Altima already unveiled, promising more/better/faster everything, is there anything to miss about the outgoing model? After a week living with one, I can definitely say there might be.

Probably.

(Read More…)

By on March 5, 2018

keys car sale

You’ve just taken your vehicle to the dealership for servicing and find yourself in need of a loaner car. Fortunately, the vehicle is still under warranty and you should be able to get into something without too much trouble. This does not mean loaner vehicles aren’t a major stressor for the dealerships providing them, and it doesn’t guarantee you a car.

Small dealers likely won’t have a surplus of such vehicles and may attempt to bar you from access, especially if you didn’t originally purchase your automobile from that particular store. Luxury brands are more likely to fork over a loaner to keep customers happy. Of course, they want something representative of the brand, not some random hunk of junk sitting idle on the lot. Maintaining a loaner fleet is tedious and opens dealers to all manner of additional expenses they’d rather not have to deal with. It’s expensive and people tend to bring back the vehicles on their own time, not when the dealer needs it for someone else.

So what’s a high-end automaker to do when a customer needs a replacement vehicle while theirs is in the shop? Think laterally. It turns out there’s a multitude of loaner alternatives currently being vetted by dealers, some of which don’t involve providing a replacement vehicle at all.  (Read More…)

By on May 3, 2017

maven freelancer

Car sharing is one of the cornerstones of automakers’ newfound focus on mobility solutions. It’s a brave new world for vehicle manufacturers, but it’s also a brave new world for consumers. With roughly 22 million American’s underemployed — that’s people with jobs that don’t provide adequate income, full-time hours, or exist outside the hire’s experience/education — many people have taken on part-time work to fill in the gaps.

Taking advantage of this unique workforce, Maven, General Motors’ mobility arm, is launching Maven Gig, providing part-timers with weekly access to its fleet of Bolt EVs. Gig functions similarly to Maven City and GM’s Express Drive partnership with Lyft, but is specifically designed for renters who don’t own a vehicle and might want to spend a week delivering pizza or working for a ride-hailing service on an extremely limited basis.

An interesting idea, but a bit of an odd duck at $229 a week. GM is pitching it as a way to “enable freelancers to earn income through multiple sources.”  (Read More…)

By on March 30, 2017

2017 Audi A4 Ultra

Today’s car rental services span the gamut in terms of vehicular offerings and price, but it used to be a more utilitarian affair. Granted, the norm is still to hop online and click the little box next to economy or compact with those full-size sedans reserved for when your employer is footing the bill. However, special discounts or a base Mitsubishi Mirage occasionally make SUVs and even premium cars too tempting to pass up. For those with more discerning tastes, there are entire agencies devoted to specialty cars.

Silvercar is a rental firm that allows customers to charter an Audi A4 similarly to how you would reserve a ZipCar — log in, schedule a pickup, and remotely unlock the vehicle for as long you need access. It’s akin to BMW’s ReachNow, General Motors’ Maven, and Mercedes’ Car2Go — that latter of which is finally replacing its fleet of Smart cars with Benz-branded vehicles. But Audi doesn’t actually own Silvercar, it just happens to be a company providing the exact service that every single automaker wants to include as part of an updated mobility identity. Oh, and it exclusively rents out A4s.

Obviously, Audi is purchasing it. (Read More…)

By on March 7, 2017

Dodge Charger Seward Highway

“It should not be denied… that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations, with absolute freedom, and the road has always led West.” —Wallace Stegner

Got an unusual question via email the other day. It comes from a young man who will be familiar to you but whom we will not explicitly identify. He was once a writer, once an editor, and now a financier, having achieved escape velocity from this ragged, scuttling business into the security and prestige of grown men’s endeavors. There was a time that he worked for me, and a time that I worked for him. It seems difficult to believe that we met eight full years ago.

Anyway, in the course of our various conversations, this Canadian fellow (we’ll call him “Bo”) happened to mention his upcoming travel plans and his need for some companionship along the way, preferably of the short-term, transaction-oriented variety.

(Read More…)

By on November 3, 2016

Audi On Demand Concierge, Image: © 2016 Bozi Tatarevic/The Truth About Cars

My wife and I visited the Bay Area a couple of weeks ago. Our plan was open-ended and started with a one-way ticket to Oakland and two nights at the Westin in Union Square. Since parking in San Francisco is expensive, we decided to forgo renting a car at the airport and took an Uber into the city.

After exploring the city for a bit, we decided to head up north and visit some wineries. One of the more convenient options to rent a car for the day is the new Audi On Demand service, so we picked up an A4 and headed north.

(Read More…)

By on December 29, 2015

2014_Jeep_Cherokee_North_4x2_Edition_Canada_Front

The Wall Street Journal reported that Jeep’s remarkable sales pace may be fueled in part by a significant increase in fleet sales through the first 10 months of this year.

According to the newspaper, which cited R.L. Polk’s sales figures, Jeep through October increased its deliveries to rental companies by 57 percent compared to the same period last year.

Through October, 11.2 percent of Jeep’s overall sales were to fleet buyers, according to the report. A Jeep spokesman told the Wall Street Journal that the fleet increase was due to Cherokee deliveries to rental companies that weren’t reported until this year.

(Read More…)

By on July 16, 2015

US Senate Wing of the Capitol

U.S. rental cars will need to comply with open recalls before being driven off the lots, a U.S. Senate panel decided Wednesday, according to Bloomberg.

The measure was an about-face from an earlier proposal backed by automakers, consumer groups and some rental car companies, which would have allowed rental cars with known defects to continue to be driven, as long as those defects were disclosed to consumers. NHTSA asked lawmakers to consider the proposal on pulling defective cars off the road in February.

The bill’s opponents said the revised amendment could harm consumers by filling dealerships with rental cars waiting to be repaired.

(Read More…)

By on February 23, 2015

Rental Car Corridor - SeaTac International Airport

The next vehicle the TTAC Zaibatsu or the B&B rent could be safer if Congress heeds the call of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

(Read More…)

By on January 30, 2015

rentals

Most car enthusiasts know that rental cars are the most abused vehicles on the road. We know this, of course, because we are the ones who abuse them.

(Read More…)

By on October 14, 2014

rentalcars

 

Courtesy of the New York Times and Polk, a chart showing the top rental cars in 2013, as a percentage of overall sales.

(Read More…)

By on December 10, 2013

ttac

The three year lease.

It entrances and traps the most spellbound car aficionados into a monthly payment that keeps them at the altar of the car payment.

Is that a bad thing? Well, depends on the way you want to look at it. What can’t be argued is that both sides get what they want, and after three years, that customer can choose to stay with the manufacturer or go somewhere else. To me at least, that seems like a fair bargain.

But what if the automaker could offer a better deal? For both parties?

(Read More…)

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