Friday, February 5, 2010

Avis and Enterprise Stop Leasing Toyotas, Hertz Yet to Make Decision, moving cars, car hauler

The major car rental companies will be moving cars with Toyota decals to the back of the lot, as both Avis Budget and Enterprise are opting to not rent out the Toyotas currently under recall. The peddle problems generally don’t manifest themselves in the low-mileage cars in the rental fleets, but the rental car companies don’t want to be seen leasing flawed cars.

Fleet sales to rental car companies are large parts of car company’s sales. They are also good marketing tools, as people might go on to buy a car they drove as a rental; I recall giving the PT Cruiser a serious look after driving one as a rental car. Having the major rental car companies pull most of their Toyotas will mean that customers won’t get that experience.

If the affected Toyotas get a bad reputation and people prefer not driving them, the fleet cars could be retired early. That would lead to some premature car hauler business taking the old Toyotas in the rental car fleet to auctions or used car lots and bringing replacement cars in.

On the bright side, this might loosen up a tight used car market. The Cash for Clunkers program took a lot of old cars off the market, but there might be a new set of “clunkers” heading into used car lots to offset their loss. I put “clunker” in quotes, for the cars should be just fine once the accelerator issue is fixed, but they may well have a bad reputation if the press of this week is any indication.