Skift Take

The strong U.S. dollar and increased demand for international travel has driven down rental car costs for American travelers in Europe.

A new study from Auto Europe finds that car rental rates are on the decline around Europe for U.S. travelers, according to the company’s car rental data.

For a seven-day rental of a compact car, rates dropped 32.1 percent in Italy from January to December 2015. Likewise, rates in the UK (12.3 percent), France (11.8 percent), Germany (11.1 percent) and Spain (2.1 percent) decreased over the course of the year.

A strong U.S. dollar is the main cause, according to Auto Europe, along with increased demand pushing prices down.

“Of course the strength of the dollar had a big impact in 2015,” said Scott Braun, chief marketing officer of Auto Europe. “It’s simply a lot more affordable for Americans to travel within Europe than it was a year ago and this drove demand. But the biggest trend was the substantial decrease in rental rates. Our data shows that U.S. residents traveling to Italy, for example, paid 30 percent less this year compared to last.”

Paris, Rome, Florence, Dublin and London were the top cities for rental car pickups in in 2015. Increased competition among auto rental companies was another cause of lower rates.

“First, the strengthened dollar resulted in increased buying power for Americans in Europe,” said Braun. “Second, there was intense competition between our suppliers which drove down industry prices, both on their existing brands and with the introduction of new, lower cost brands.”

Looking ahead into 2016, Auto Europe’s bookings indicate less enthusiasm for travel to France. Paris bookings represented seven percent of the company’s business in 2015; advance bookings for 2016 show it only comprising 4.7 percent, a significant decrease.

Overall, Rome, Dublin and London have received most of Auto Europe’s bookings so far for 2016. The company’s analysis also found that travelers picking up cars in Rome and London are going on longer trips by three or four days.


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Tags: auto europe, car rental

Photo credit: Fiat cars on the streets of Rome. Anna & Michal / Flickr

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