Rental car shortage leaves Hawaiian tourists driving U-Haul trucks

Hey, if you need wheels, you take any set you can, I guess.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
U-Haul truck

Who would've guessed U-Hauls would be in high demand?

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Rental cars on Hawaiian islands are in such short supply that tourists have taken to rocking U-Haul moving trucks just to get around the area during a vacation, Hawaii News Now reported Wednesday. According to the website, it's certainly not uncommon to see flocks of the orange and white trucks roaming around tourist areas as prices for a traditional rental car hover around $1,000 a day.

Considering Hawaii often isn't a budget vacation in the first place, $1,000 a day on top of a flight and other accommodations is quite a price hike. The cheapest rental vehicle in the state last month was a vanilla Toyota Camry costing a cool $722 a day.

When the pandemic first struck the US in 2020, rental car companies found themselves in a tight situation. With travel essentially on pause, companies were left with massive inventories of cars sitting idle. Hertz, one of the largest rental car providers, filed for bankruptcy and remains in a restructuring period. In the meantime, companies began offloading rental cars as quickly as possible, creating quite a few used car bargains in the process. Now, there aren't enough of the rental cars to go around.

It's not clear when we may see the equilibrium return. Travel remains on the uptick as vaccinations in the US climb, though rental car companies are faced with crunched new-car inventory as numerous automakers feel the production pinch from an ongoing semiconductor chip shortage.

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