Sales into car rental fleets for the first quarter of 2022 totaled 164,383 units, according to data collected by Bobit. Quarter over quarter, that compares to 292,873 units in 2021, 461,966 in 2020, and 551,828 in 2019. Sales dropped 70% compared to 2019, the last normalized quarter comparison before the covid pandemic.
The first quarter sales total for 2022 was the lowest since the first quarter of 2009, when the industry was in the throes of the Great Recession, according to Bobit data.
“The data backs up what we know anecdotally,” said Chris Brown, executive editor of Auto Rental News. “The unprecedented challenges facing car rental concerning vehicle supply continue unabated.”
Unit First Quarter Sales, Rental
“In this era of extremely limited vehicle supply, it’s no secret that automakers are diverting sales to rental fleets in favor of consumer sales,” Brown continued. “Car rental companies are compensating by elongating vehicle hold times in fleet, buying used fleet vehicles, and buying some units from local franchised dealers.”
Through the first quarter, rental check ins of rental vehicles at Manheim auctions were off 56% from “normal,” which is close or at all-time lows, according to Manheim. Rental risk units sold through Manheim in March averaged 62,829 miles — down 6% year over year but substantially higher than the recent pre-pandemic years when mileage averaged about 45,000 miles.
The silver lining of tight supply for fleets: Average price for rental risk units sold through Manheim in March was up 30% year over year.
Conversely, sales to commercial fleets have held relatively steady overall during the same periods, according to Bobit data.
Unit First Quarter Sales, Commercial
In terms of overall new light-vehicle sales, the average SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) in the first quarter of 2022 totaled 14.0 million units, the best quarterly sales performance since Q2 of 2021, according to NADA.