Turo VS Big Car Rental: The New Price War In Hawaii

Rental cars are big business in Hawaii. The stakes are high as well. Tourists in their yearly millions generally rely on renting a car when they arrive, as for many it can seem like (and often realistically is) the only agreeable method of transportation available.

Unfortunately, amid this year’s resurgence of visitors, the state is spiraling further and further into what many are calling a rental car “nightmare.” This nightmare is, in essence, a shortage. The rental car industry, like so many other industries, got slammed by COVID-19. Many big name companies had to sell off large amounts of their inventory to avoid bankruptcy; and even still, not all were successful - Avis being the prominent example.

Of course, less cars available for rent means the cost of renting a car goes up. In a state already unique for its impressive rental car costs, this is explosive. Some estimates have you paying nearly a thousand dollars a week to rent a car in Kahului or Kona, for example.

Enter Turo. Turo is to car rentals what Uber and Lyft are to taxis. Instead of renting a car from a huge company that owns and maintains tons of them, you can simply rent a car from another car owner - likewise, you can rent your car out to others as a side hustle.

As you might imagine, big name rental companies are particularly displeased about this. Having only just clawed their way out of bankruptcy to gaze down the Hawaiian cliff sides and see more and more tourists driving peer-to-peer-shared Turo cars, rental companies have apparently decided to wage war on Turo. Beat of Hawaii reports that over 400 new rental cars arrived in late November, just on the smaller island of Kauai, over a single weekend in late November.

The war is to be fought over an incredibly lucrative market that is rapidly surging back to life. If you’re a prospective Hawaii visitor who may need to rent a car there (which is not unlikely given your much appreciated readership) then another way of putting this is: the war is to be fought over you.

This might sound intimidating, but it could actually be pretty nice. Rental car companies are scrambling desperately to make their prices as low as possible, and Turo is brainstorming day and night to make their service as convenient and useful as they can. All parties will be fighting to be the best choice like their lives depend on it - because frankly they do.

Right now, rentals are still sparse and exorbitant; but that is already changing. How much it will change, and how the rental car market in Hawaii will look in the months to come, ultimately depends on the results of this new war between Turo and the big rental companies.

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