It is excellent news that in the first quarter the rent-a-car sector, after being the sector that suffered the most in the pandemic due to the collapse of travel and mobility, has almost recovered the turnover compared to the pre-pandemic , marking “only” a delay of 4% on 2020, which was also touched for three weeks by the lockdown. The recovery, however, presents itself with new aspects. If rental days are 2% behind, rentals are still 22% less. It means that there are still no short rentals typical of tourism, professional and leisure, which already in 2021 had been the great laggard of the recovery. If we then associate these data with the turnover which, as mentioned, is only 4% lower, the other characteristic emerges, perhaps the most relevant for the sector: prices are growing, due to the shortage of cars that manufacturers refuse to supply to renters, preferring to give them to private customers who pay more. Operators are reacting both by keeping the cars in the fleet longer, and this in any case raises some costs, and by resorting to products made in China, and this is the signal that should worry the continent’s industry and institutions the most.
The Aniasa 2021 Report, edited as every year by the Fleet & Mobility Study Center, highlights that last year the short-term rental was strongly affected by the substantial disappearance of traveling in the first part and more generally by the absence of the traditional contribution from international tourism. . A positive summer season, with almost exclusively national customers, allowed for a marked growth compared to 2020, but compared to the pre-pandemic, the sector saw activities halve (-51% of rentals) and the fleet reduced by a third, the days of rental and the total turnover. The semiconductor crisis then did the rest, making the procurement of cars very difficult precisely in periods with high demand.
On the other hand, long-term rental did well, which in the quarter grew by 9% in terms of turnover and 7% in terms of fleet, in the wake of 2021 in which, thanks to the stability of the business and the continuous expansion in the private sector, consolidated growth in turnover, with a total turnover of almost 8.8 billion euros (+ 12% on 2020). The growth of the fleet continued (+ 5%) which for the first time exceeds one million vehicles, thanks to a wider recourse to the extension of contracts agreed with customers.
Among the absolute novelties of the Report an analysis on the market of private individuals (with tax code only) who have chosen to rent a car for their mobility needs, giving up ownership: at the end of 2021 they reached 100,000. A significant figure, which marks a growth of 55% compared to the beginning of 2020 and which rises to 150,000 units, also considering private individuals with a VAT number.
The message that comes from Aniasa, through the mouth of its new president Alberto Viano, is the strong disappointment at the exclusion of company and rental cars from the incentives put in place by the Government. A real own goal on the way to the transition to electricity, given that the rental, data in hand, is the main tool able to favor this transition of the fleet and to accelerate the replacement of the most polluting vehicles. The exclusion reveals a limited vision, anchored to the concept of ownership of the car asset, which risks slowing down the transition towards an increasingly pay-per-use mobility model, an evolution that would bring with it evident positive repercussions in terms of sustainability environmental and vehicle safety, as well as certainty in terms of tax revenues for the Treasury “.