Car rental firms in the UK are finding it such a struggle to source sufficient numbers of new cars, they’re being forced to source models from the nearly-new secondhand sector instead, reports the Vehicle Remarketing Association (VRA).
The issue has arisen through a combination of factors, including supply issues related to the new WLTP fuel economy regulations, and the strategic withdrawal from the car rental sector by many manufacturers. Buoyant markets elsewhere in Europe are also restricting allocations of UK cars.
Supplies of new superminis are in particularly short supply, says the VRA.
“This means that simply to meet their requirement for vehicles, some rental companies… have been entering the nearly-new sector,” said VRA chair Glenn Sturley, “buying batches of cars to meet their needs”.
It’s not unknown for this situation to arise, said Sturley, but it seems particularly acute at the moment – “and appears to be helping to maintain values in this part of the market, especially when it comes to superminis and city cars, with the latter doing especially well”.
He also added that the daily rental sector “has got a bad name that it doesn’t really deserve. There is a tendency to think of manufacturers using it to ‘dump’ large numbers of new cars onto the market, which is something that hasn’t happened for many years”.
These days, it’s generally used responsibly, particularly to help feed car manufacturers’ stocks of good used cars. We will see over coming months whether car makers change their view on daily rental – particularly as the deadline to register pre-WLTP cars in September looms…