Rental Biz Sees Small-Car Shortage

Demand for small cars on rise, as is anger at 'upgrades'
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2008 6:43 AM CDT
Rental Biz Sees Small-Car Shortage
Hertz Chairman and CEO Mark Frissora poses with a Toyota Prius hybrid car. Hertz announced it is adding hybrid vehicles to its fleet.    (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Rental car companies can't meet the soaring demand for more fuel-efficient small cars and are forcing irritated customers to take "upgrades" to gas-guzzlers. Rocketing gas prices are putting pressure on Hertz, Avis, and other companies to sell their luxury cars and SUVs to pay for fuel-efficient models. Bookings for economy cars at one major travel agency were up 14% while the demand for luxury cars plummeted 24%.

"Just six months ago, anybody would have taken a Chevy Trailblazer SUV in lieu of a four-cylinder Cobalt. Not now," an industry consultant told the Los Angeles Times. "That's a big deal. That's 25 years of history changing." (More car rental stories.)

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