A customer picks up a hire car. / SUR

Hire car businesses say another 270,000 vehicles are needed in Spain this year

The national hire car fleet is currently about 336,000, when in 2019 it was 819,000

Pilar Martínez

The Costa del Sol is not the only area experiencing the problem of a shortage of vehicles at car hire firms in the tourism industry.

Data from Feneval (National Federation of Vehicles for Hire with or without a driver) shows that, ideally, another 270,000 hire cars are needed in Spain.

"Although the companies are making considerable efforts to obtain vehicles, there are far fewer available this season than there would normally be," said a source at the organisation.

"The main problem the sector is facing right now is the lack of new cars due to the global shortage of semi-conductors. That has meant that assembly lines have come to a halt and it is taking months longer to deliver the vehicles which have been ordered,"they said.

As a result, the national hire car fleet is currently about 336,000, when in 2019 it was 819,000. "You can see how big a difference compared with just three years ago," added Feneval.

As a consequence of this problem, the sector believes its business figures will not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023.

"We hope to end the present year with a turnover of around 1.4 billion euros, but business won't be back to normal until next year now. This year, we expect sales to be around 80 per cent of the 1.9 billion euros in turnover we reported three years ago," they said.

As a result of the lack of microchips, 59,967 cars were registered in Spain last month, which was 30 per cent fewer than in March 2021, even though the sector is recovering well from the pandemic. Sales are far below 2012 levels, during the financial crisis.

"The shortage of microchips is holding the market back and rental companies are once again going to be the sector that suffers most because the manufacturers give priority to their dealers," said sources at Ancove, the national association of vehicle traders.

The organisation also says that high fuel prices also affected sales last month, especially among private individuals. Looking at the number of new cars registered in March 2019, there was a clear drop of 51 per cent in March this year.

In fact, Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has now announced a new Strategic Project for Recovery and Economic Transformation (PERTE), under which 11 billion euros will be invested in the manufacture of microchips and semiconductors as a way of solving this highly unusual situation.