The rental car shortage has left agency lots barren, with the only available cars marked up to ridiculously high prices. But travelers in Hawaii have found an interesting workaround: Rent U-Haul trucks.
The pandemic reverberates through the various industries that make the world move. Ocean shipping is slow, semiconductor chip suppliers can’t keep up with demand and automakers are going back to old-school technology to keep production lines going.
The rental car industry has also been hit hard. At first, rental agencies like Avis, Hertz and Thrifty couldn’t find enough people to rent cars; strapped, they sold off huge chunks of their fleets. But as the country reopens and spring blooms, now they’re having trouble finding enough cars to provide. What few cars remain on rental lots are jacked up to mind-boggling rates. Last month, Hawaii News Now reports, the cheapest car on Maui was a Toyota Camry for $722 a day. Tourists have found a clever and amusing workaround in renting U-Hauls.
U-Haul Marketing President Kaleo Alau says the result is that U-Haul’s Hawaii facilities are busier than they’ve been in years, from Hawaii News Now:
“The uptick from tourism, the uptick from companies opening back up, from the economy restarting — everybody seems to need a vehicle.”
“Most of the time they’re saying that they can’t get a vehicle from any of the rental spots. They’re all sold out.”
Alau says that tourists are renting everything from pickup trucks and cargo vans to box trucks. These people are basically taking anything that they can get that’s cheaper than a $722 Toyota Camry.
The practice is a bit amusing. Picture going to a popular Hawaii tourist trap and seeing a bunch of these in the parking lot:
The issue isn’t just limited to Hawaii, either. The New York Times reports that several airports in Florida were completely sold out of rental cars on Presidents Day weekend in February. Other times, rentals even in the mainland U.S. are similarly expensive. This makes getting a U-Haul an attractive option.
While renting a U-Haul is a neat trick, some Hawaii residents fear that tourists are renting so many trucks that there won’t be rentals for moving purposes. U-Haul says that it encourages people to use their vehicles primarily for moving activities.