It’s going to be a tough winter. The best we can say about the wholesale market is that prices “aren’t falling as fast.” There are deals to be had on new cars, if only operators could get rid of their cars sitting at auction that are tying up their credit lines. And we’re all waiting to see what happens with the auto industry bailout. A Big Three bankruptcy would be a major problem for the industry, at least in the short term, as banks won’t be willing to extend credit to buy those cars.
If you listened to any of the testimony over the auto bailout, you heard our legislators talk about the manufacturers, the dealers, the suppliers and the consumer. The dealer councils had opinions solicited by Congress and the consumers were surveyed about whether they would buy a car from a manufacturer if they filed for bankruptcy. Congress spoke about the impact of jobs on the suppliers to the manufacturing industry. But you didn’t hear a single comment about the largest purchaser of American manufactured cars — the American car rental industry. Not once, not a single word was whispered about our industry and all of its employees, vendors and suppliers who rely on the industry for survival.
These recent problems come on top of continuing issues that our industry faces. We continue to be the only major travel segment that does not require a credit card deposit to guarantee our service. We continue to see inconsistencies in total charges online for the same rate. We continue to see predatory excise taxes heaped on our customers for projects that have nothing to do with car rental.
This industry generates close to $22 billion in revenue. If car rental customers pay 20 percent tax (a conservative figure), then the car rental industry collected more than $4 billion in taxes for various government agencies. It’s hard to imagine a group with that size having no seat at the table and no voice when it comes making the decisions that are going to shape our future. Yet that’s where we are today.