The car rental sector price war has forced companies to buy smaller cars, which now have more powerful engines than in the past, SA Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association spokesman Paul Pauwen says.

The car rental sector price war has forced companies to buy more subcompact cars, which now have more powerful engines than in the past, SA Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association spokesman Paul Pauwen says.


“The buying pattern (in the rental sector) is mainly for smaller category cars,” Pauwen, who is a director of 0800 Car Hire, told . "Today's average rental fleet contains about 40 per cent of cars in the 1,4- and 1,6-litre category, but with power steering and air-conditioning."


Thirty per cent of a fleet would consist of 1,3-litre cars without power steering or air-conditioning, with the other 30 per cent being from 1,8-litre capacity up.


Imperial Car Rental managing director Dawn Jones said the company's fleet mix, which comprises passenger vehicles only and not commercial vehicles, “changes periodically to meet changing customer and seasonal demands”.


"Current customer demands are for safety features such as air bags, ABS braking and central locking,” Jones added, “and in the middle segment of the market there is a move towards smaller cars with safety features.


"Our first four car groups (from smallest basic to medium with air-conditioning and power steering) previously represented 68 per cent of the total fleet, but now make up 75 per cent".


Imperial noted there was stronger customer demand for 1,3- or 1,4-litre cars with air-conditioning than 1,6-litre models.


Jones added Imperial was expanding its fleet at a cost of more than R120 million to cope with the increased demand in November, which is their peak season.


"The timing for selling our vehicles is dependent on volatility in the used-car market, she said. "However, we would never sell a vehicle before the first 15 000km. It is optimum to sell vehicles that are between nine and 14 months old and have covered between 30 000km and 40 000km”.


"Lower interest rates have had a positive effect on the holding cost of our fleet. The stronger rand has positively affected the price of imported vehicles," Jones added.

Original article from Car