MADRID – If you want a rental car along the Spanish coast this summer, you can count on high prices. They are skyrocketing because of the scarcity of supply.
The rental companies have not been able to expand their fleet. The microchip crisis is one of the causes. As a result, new cars cannot be delivered. Consequently, renting a car is sometimes more expensive than the price for a hotel with a half board.
Due to the restrictive measures of the corona crisis, there were already serious problems at the car rental companies in 2021. This forced many companies to sell a large part of their fleet.
For example, the fleet of rental cars in the Balearic Islands has been reduced by 40% this summer compared to the years leading up to the pandemic. This peak season, about 74,000 rental cars are circulating on the islands, compared to the 120,000 before the covid pandemic.
The decrease is mainly due to a massive shortage of cars at the large rental companies. Automakers have cancelled orders due to the slowdown in production chains due to the lack of semiconductors worldwide. There are also additional delays due to the Easter hauler strike. Therefore, the lack of available vehicles and high demand has pushed prices up.
At Ibacar, a local car rental company with offices in the north of Mallorca, its manager Catalina Martorell in El País says that manufacturers have cancelled 20% of their orders. In addition, due to the lack of available units, they have increased their rates. “We have increased the prices by 50% because we have fewer cars. Nevertheless, we offer a small car for about €70 per day. That is much cheaper than the barbaric amounts that car rental companies at the airport sometimes dare to charge,” emphasises Martorell.
The same situation is experienced in other tourist areas. Ana María García, president of the Andalucia Business Association for Car Rental Companies (Aesva), explains that during the pandemic, companies in the sector had to divest a large part of their cars to gain liquidity due to lack of revenue. “No one came and the costs of maintaining the fleet were high, so many units had to be sold to pay expenses,” she says.
Now that the situation has improved, they cannot acquire vehicles. “The factories take a long time to fulfil every request and they give priority to individuals, so it’s very difficult. We have to buy cars, but they don’t sell them to us”, emphasises García.
At Malaga airport, the queues for the car rental offices are very long. Moreover, waiting is pointless for people without a reservation. Without a reservation, it is impossible to find a rental car or the price is so high that they cannot afford it.
“Tourists have returned, but we have to tell many of them no,” says García. She finds the lack of mobility a major setback for tourist destinations in Spain, such as the coast of Malaga. “It’s like going to a restaurant and there’s no food. Cars are our business, but there aren’t any.” That’s why the price for cars that do exist is extremely high.
Aesva’s representative confirms that the sector is working with half of its pre-pandemic fleet. That’s not nearly enough to meet demand. On the Costa del Sol, 80% of all rental cars are concentrated in Andalucia. The area registers tourist figures that are comparable to those of the record year 2019.
The Patronato del Turismo Costa del Sol already presented forecasts for 2022 in January and expected a situation similar to the year before the start of the pandemic: 10.7 million tourists and a turnover of €13.8 billion.