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Car rental firms fear holiday season shortage as COVID knock-on effects bite

Eyewitness News logo Eyewitness News 2021/10/14 Lauren Isaacs
© @PaceCarRental1/Twitter CAPE TOWN - Car rental agency Pace said that it was already fully booked on certain vehicle groups until January.

The agency's CEO, Grenville Salmon, has urged South Africans planning to hire a car in the near future to secure a booking as soon as possible.

Salmon is also the chair of the South African Vehicle Rental and Leasing Organisation and said that it could guarantee that there would not be enough cars available for hire in the country over the Christmas holiday period when tourism was at its peak.

Pace said that the knock-on effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic had resulted in the shortage of cars for hire.

The industry as a whole has 50,000 fewer cars than it had last year as some car rental companies were forced to sell off parts of their fleets because of the uncertainty brought on by the coronavirus and associated lockdowns.

But now, as demand grows, Salmon said that companies were struggling to scale up again because of the worldwide shortage of semiconductor chips and delays in production time.

He said that there was no supply and orders made six months ago still had not been delivered, with some manufacturers cancelling orders with rental companies.

Salmon said that because of the shortage, manufacturers are supplying their highest yield customers first.

"Manufacturers have limited supply so they supply the retail companies first and the rental companies come last. Certain manufacturers have cancelled all orders until January."

Salmon said that in order to get government subsidies, they had to meet export requirements.

"They export first and then supply local second."

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