Car renters complaining about older vehicles

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Car Rental News - 02/03/2009


Rental car companies are keeping their vehicles longer due to the financial crisis as frequent renters report.

Rather than finding themselves behind the wheel of a vehicle with low mileage and the smell of a new car, drivers who frequently rent vehicles in the U.S. are saying that the cars they’re assigned are increasing older and “road-weary”.

"Once a month I'll get a car that has more than 20,000 miles on it," noted Dan Hemmati, a management consultant who lives in Washington, D.C., who typically rents a car every week. "Some of these cars are in really poor condition - stains on the upholstery, or the 'check engine' light is on. Even if you go in and try to switch, they'll tell you that's the best car they've got."

Rental car company executives are acknowledging that their fleets are getting older. Many report that they are facing unprecedented challenges, including a declining demand for rental, tighter credit that makes it difficult to purchase new cars, and lower prices for their used vehicles.

"The used-car market is so weak it would've been cost-prohibitive for us to sell into that market," said Richard Broome, speaking on behalf of Hertz, which just reported losses for the fourth quarter of 2008 resulting from a drop in sales of 16 percent.

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