Folks turn to U-Haul to rent vacation vehicles in Hawaii

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii saw rental cars go for hundreds of dollars a day in March 2021. Low supply and high demand drove prices up.

It has also impacted other businesses in unlikely places.

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U-Haul usually services people who are trying to move or transport items for their business, but the company has noticed some customers are renting their vehicles just to get around the island.

It started around the beginning of March. The company tells KHON2 they have noticed more people were asking to rent their vehicles, such as a cargo van or pickup truck, for more than one day.

“One of our questions that we always ask is what are you moving because that lets us gauge like what vehicle you can have,” said Kaleo Alau, marketing company president for U-Haul Company of Hawaii. “When they’re like, oh, we’re just going to use it to drive around and we’re like, you’re going to what now? Oh, okay.”

Alau says they help as many people as they can while making sure their primary customers are serviced as well. He tells KHON2 they have gotten calls from concerned folks who see U-Haul vehicles parked at the beach.

“We’re like, let’s go and check it out, make sure it’s not stolen and no, it’s just somebody at the beach,” said Alau.

Cruzin Hawaii says there is no shortage in Waikiki of people renting their electric bikes, motorcycles and especially mopeds.

“I’d say probably about 50% of our clientele right now is people who came out here to get a rental car or had other plans and they got changed. And now they’re going with the next best option which is a moped,” said Cruzin Hawaii co-owner Spencer Larson.

Hawaii has been experiencing a rental car shortage. Companies had to close in 2020 and were forced to sell their inventory or ship it to the mainland. Limited supply and high demand increased prices.

“I don’t think anybody anticipated Hawaii coming back so strong so quickly, and weren’t able to purchase vehicles because there’s a shortage of new cars being manufactured,” said Faith Caldeira, owner of Paradise Rent-A-Car.

The company has been buying used cars through the auction but that has also changed.

“The used car values in the past two months have gone way way way up,” said Caldeira. “There’s not as many as there used to be before, where the auction would have 400 or 500 cars, now they have like a 150 to 250 cars.”

Paradise Rent-A-Car tells KHON2 they are usually sold out on the weekends.

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