Sandy leads to Thanksgiving rental car shortage

Sandy damaged thousands of cars — including those owned by rental companies. The loss of vehicles has been compounded by rising demand. Thanksgiving and Christmas are normally busy rental periods.
By SCOTT MAYEROWITZ Modified: November 20, 2012 at 8:02 pm •  Published: November 21, 2012
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Insurance companies State Farm, Progressive, New Jersey Manufacturers, Nationwide and USAA told The Associated Press in the days following the storm that they received about 38,000 car-damage claims. Other companies either did not return calls or declined to release claims information.

“It's an unusual situation,” says Neil Abrams of the Abrams Consulting Group, which focuses on the car rental industry. “Unfortunately, you can't go out and buy cars for a demand spike. You don't know how long it will last.”

Car rental companies were hesitant to speak about their own losses but Avis Budget Group Inc. says it removed from service 2 percent of its fleet from Philadelphia to Connecticut. The company did not say how many cars that was.


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Auto rental companies respond

Outside of the holiday rush, car rental companies say there are enough vehicles available for drivers. Here's what they did to ensure a large enough fleet:

Hertz held on to older vehicles that were scheduled to be sold. It also brought in extra cars and even rented trailers and generators to keep open some locations destroyed by the storm.

Avis Budget brought in 6,000 extra cars from elsewhere in the country.

Enterprise Holdings — which owns Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car — moved 17,000 cars to the Northeast region from other parts of the country. Another 10,000 brand new cars, set for other states, were instead redirected to New York and New Jersey.

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