The rental car industry has had a difficult year, customers are unhappy, and some companies are still making money. In a country that likes driving, has planned around driving, and has oodles of cars plus encourages business activity, what could be done to not depend on rental cars? A few options:
- Car sharing services. There are more of these around today. Cut out the middle-man business and just deal with a private car owner for your transportation.
- Taxis and/or ride share companies. These are more available in some places than others and do not allow the same freedom as being able to drive a rental car wherever and whenever you would like.
- Public transportation. Even less available outside of denser urban areas. And even in places where mass transit is plentiful, many people still opt for private vehicles.
- Walking or bicycling. Very difficult and possibly dangerous in many locations.
- Borrowing a car from family or friends or doing without it for a time. It could be done but the location and time frame is very important.
Thinking back, I can recall multiple trips where a rental car was a necessity in order to get where we wanted to go. At the same time, some work trips did not require a vehicle because the location of the meeting was in a large city with public transit options. And if you are in a suburban or more rural setting and your car is in the shop for more than a day, a car rental may be very necessary.
Does this mean Americans must put up with rental cars forever? Perhaps someday there will be fleets of electric vehicles for all to access. Until then, renting a car may be a necessary evil.