Skift Take

Rental car companies saw improvements in revenue and fleet sizes during 2015 and probably feel optimistic about the U.S. economy's continued recovery and increased American travel projected for this year. But they should hold off on celebrating until they demonstrate how they'll make renting cars easier and more mobile friendly in a world where Uber is a frequent alternative to rentals.

Fleet sizes and revenues both increased in 2015 for car rental companies’ U.S. business, and those are only two indicators that this sector hasn’t completely given up in the face of Uber or Lyft, at least for now.

In fact, Google search data show significantly more U.S. car rental queries were performed on mobile devices for parts of 2015 than the previous year — a 45% increase. That doesn’t prove travelers actually booked more car rentals through mobile devices than they do with ride hailing apps. But it does demonstrate that there’s opportunity for car rental companies on mobile that the sector has left largely untapped.

Last year Skift looked at the state of international travelers renting cars in the U.S. The following charts highlight the impacts they and domestic travelers had on car rental companies’ operations during the past year. In 2015 there were more rental cars on U.S. roads than before the recession and interest in car rentals on Google, for example, is also on an uptick.

Chart 1: More than 2.1 million rental cars were on U.S. roads in 2015 and overall revenues were slightly higher than 2014. However, Hertz’s third quarter 2015 10-Q SEC filing reveals the company’s U.S. fleet size has shrunk by about 18,000 vehicles since 2014.

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 5.58.55 PM

Source: Auto Rental News

Chart 2: Rental car companies’ revenues have been climbing since the Recession and so have their average fleet sizes, by 4% and 5% respectively year-over-year. The revenue per car per month, however, was a little more than $1,000, which is less than the past five years.

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Source: Auto Rental News

Chart 3: For rental car related Google searches, overall search volumes were higher during 2015 than the previous year and during September 2015 mobile searches were up 44% year-over-year.

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Source: Google Trends

Chart 4: Enterprise, as the largest U.S. car rental company by fleet size and revenue, had the highest volume of Google searches compared to all other U.S. rental car companies from July to September 2015 and also showed the most year-over-year growth in searches.

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Source: Google Trends


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Tags: car rentals, enterprise, hertz

Photo credit: An sign points to Las Vegas car rental facilities. Michael Dorausch / Flickr

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