Car Rental in U.K.: Overview & Industry Analysis

Posted by pradnyavirkar on March 15th, 2017

The U.K. car rental market is going through a phase of evolution with increasing popularity and innovations diversifying the marketplace. The U.K. car rental market is showing a stable growth as compared to its European counterparts. The booming leisure tourism industry and the increasing number of tourists in the U.K. are expected to drive the car rental market in this area. However, this car rental market is supposed to suffer more due to the improved public transport in some of the areas in the U.K. The majority of the U.K. car rental market is occupied by the top five players with a negligible presence of independent operators.

Car Rental in the UK: Drivers and Restraints

The major car rental companies in U.K. provide a broad range of vehicle options for the customers including SUVs, MPVs, saloons, etc. In addition to this, they also offer loyalty benefits for repeat customers. A few companies allow members to collect the reward points after every booking and avail them for free rental days, while some companies’ loyalty programs offer exciting benefits such as express pick up and drop services, free weekend hire rewards, and discount coupons. Such attractions are expected to drive the U.K. car rental market. However, in the current age of the internet, it is very easy to find a whole array of online negative reviews for major car rental players. The complaints posted by few customers regarding the excessive cost charged for minimal vehicle damage or other hidden charges etc. is becoming a major factor for customers to move away from such companies. These rental companies personally advise their customers to inspect and photograph the car from every possible angle before driving off and also recommended to purchase extra insurance, which is changing the consumer's mentality to think that car rental services are more trouble than its worth. The other aspects of additional charges such as drivers under 25, child seats, collision damage waivers, and fuel can make the cost double of what is originally quoted.

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The other car rental options in the U.K. includes the direct hiring of cars from dealerships. Few of the major car dealership companies in U.K. offer this facility, including one-way hires. Some of the large dealer groups in the U.K. offer the hiring of cars of all makes and models at lower prices as compared to the other leading car rental players. There are several other independent companies which also provide commercial vehicles on hire. These players provide car rental services at competitive prices.  

The improvements made to the public transport methods in the country and the trend of increasing interest in car sharing clubs is anticipated to slow down the growth of the car rental market in the U.K. over the forecast period. The various government initiatives such as high-speed II railway project which is likely to connect London with the West Midlands could negatively impact the car rental market in the U.K.

Despite some drawbacks present, the overall car rental market in the U.K. is expected to increase, owing to the recent market developments and adoption of innovative hire alternatives. Some of the other rental options include car hiring services provided by cab aggregators, which uses smartphone facility and uses the GPS to connect the customers to the local drivers. This system is expected to offer new growth opportunities to the traditional cab market due to demand for car rentals for short term, and also from the under 25 age group customers who may find the standard car rental tariffs expensive. The unceasing growth experienced by the car rental market in the U.K. in the past few years is expected to continue further with improvements in the services offered to customers. 

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Car Rental in the UK: Key Players

The car rental market in the U.K. has several major as well as small operators. However, despite the rise in several alternative rental formats, more than half of the car rental market in the U.K. is acquired by the top five players. Enterprise Rent a Car is the largest player in the U.K. car rental market followed by Eurocar and National Car Rental. The Avis and Hertz are some of the other main players operating in the U.K. car rental market which offers its services at a huge range of locations across the country and the world. All these companies present in the U.K. car rental market offer a broad variety of vehicles including saloons, superminis, vans, MPVs, SUVs and 4x4s. The mechanical reliability and fuel economy of these extremely well-maintained and upgraded rental cars inspires the peace of mind of the customers.

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