Experts say rental car shortage is caused by computer chips

Updated: Apr. 30, 2021 at 5:49 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The coronavirus pandemic dealing another blow; this one aimed at the rental car industry.

“Last year when the demand was so low because people weren’t traveling, a lot of the rental car companies sold off a portion of their inventory and reduced the number of cars that they had,” said Clay Ingram with AAA Alabama.

Now that mask ordinances are lifting, and more people are getting vaccinated, experts say travel is on the upswing.

But a shortage of semi-conductor computer chips is making it harder for car rental companies to increase their fleets.

“They’re having trouble replacing these cars and building their inventory back up, in part because of a computer chip shortage that is needed to get these new cars off the assembly line,” Ingram said.

Experts say those computer chips control all the major systems in new cars…such as engine management… climate control and entertainment systems.

Auto manufacturers are trying to keep up with demand…but the strain is causing dramatic price hikes in rental cars…some companies in places like Hawaii quoting $500 a day or more.

“That’s not true everywhere. It kind of depends on the destination, the location. They are a good bit higher in Hawaii. They’re a good bit higher in Florida right now, but that’s not true everywhere and these companies are doing the best they can to balance out their inventories and put more cars in the spots where they have the higher demand,” Ingram explained.

Ingram adds people have gotten very creative over this shortage going to places like U-Haul and Penske to rent cargo vans and pick-up trucks to have a vehicle to get around in while they’re on vacation.

But you can also rely on rideshare services like Lyft and Uber to get you where you need to go.

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