Q: What do you think about hybrids for my rental fleet?
Rob Dau — Payless Rent A Car
A: We see more hybrids available through manufacturer fleet programs. For example, for the first time Hyundai is offering its Sonata Hybrid to rental fleets at fleet pricing. This is a real opportunity for rental operators to offer something different.
The most successful hybrids are ones that look different, such as the Prius (see number of hybrid registrations in 2011 for rental fleets at right). Manufacturers are learning this. The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, for example, stands out with different styling from the standard Sonata.
“Going Green” has been a catch phrase for quite a while. People want others to know they are making a statement. You need to select hybrid fleet vehicles that stand out and that will expose you to a new set of customers. In May 2012, Prius became the world’s third top selling brand, so there definitely is demand for hybrids.
Some corporate and government organizations have mandates to rent fuel-efficient hybrids. If they know you have them available, it opens new opportunities and relationships. Dealers as well have customers who want to try out a hybrid before buying and could rent from you. These same dealers represent a good market for selling your used hybrids.
Looking at Manheim Market Report numbers, hybrids also hold their residual values. It should also be noted that hybrids fall into a different class of car, so your rates can be higher than for a similarly sized vehicle.
Finally, gas prices continue to increase — and will over the long run. The market continues to see wide swings in pricing and those peaks offer opportunities to sell hybrids. While we won’t see prices like 2008, when used hybrids sold for more than new units and some rental operators made more than $8,000 a unit, hybrids are still a good addition to your fleet.
Eckhaus Fleet believes renting hybrids is an opportunity you need to take advantage of!