Rental Cars are booked until early August

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island

    Avis Car Rental Facility is currently closed near the Lihue Airport.

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island

    An empty lot is what’s left at the closed facility of Avis Car Rental company in Lihu‘e.

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island

    It’s business as usual for other car companies like Hertz Rental Car company near the Lihue Airport.

LIHU‘E — A California visitor was frustrated on Tuesday when he didn’t get a rental car upon landing on Kauai, where rental cars on all traveling platforms are currently sold out until early August.

Kellin Hopkins is staying on Kaua‘i for a week, and he had to wait for a full day before he could get an upgrade and drive a car he got from Avis Car Rental, whose facility is temporarily closed. He said it was kind of a gamble.

“The major problem I would say, which was the customer service as far as we had to wait in line for 30 to 40 minutes and nobody told us there were no cars there,” Hopkins said. “So it was like kind of a wasted chance like they could have been like ‘Hey, we’re really sorry. We have no cars’ — instead of having everyone wait. Which would have been better, I came back and got my car today, but I couldn’t get a hold of anyone at the Avis desk.”

Like Hopkins, people renting cars from Kaua‘i are on a waiting list, or cars are all sold out until the end of the summer. Yet some get creative and have their parents make their car arrangements for them ahead of time.

Zane Pearson and his family from Tucson Arizona said he had no problems with renting a car when he arrived to Kaua‘i a week ago.

“It was easy for us, my father took care of it,” Pearson said. “Previously he did before all the random car stuff. It probably cost a little more.”

Meanwhile, residents have seen over a thousand rental cars parked in random places like on an old golf course near Hokuala Golf Course, or places like Ahukini’s grass lots throughout the pandemic.

A car rental manager from Honolulu on Wednesday, who requested anonymity because of his company’s protocols, said 70% of his rental cars had to be sent back to their mainland warehouse because they were getting charged $8 a day for each car. He also said they are currently operating on 30% or over 200 cars on their lot and are expecting to receive 100 cars back from the mainland by next week Wednesday.

The manager said like the other car rental companies statewide, his company were sitting on cars all pandemic, paying tons of money to store them. He said his company couldn’t afford to keep the cars on their lot and so he had to send the cars back to the mainland.

He concluded and said when inter-island started to open up, the other islands started to get busy, but Hawaii was behind in the states. So they didn’t need cars. They were still down 90% in business, they moved a lot of cars, and then when Kaua‘i opened up, the pent-up demand decided to come in for them.

Lisa Martini from Enterprise Holdings which operates Alamo, Enterprise, and National echoed the anonymous manager from the other rental car company in Lihu‘e said Enterprise like the rest of the industry, is seeing increased demand for vehicles for spring and summer travel-especially in popular vacation destinations.

“If you’re planning travel, we encourage you to reserve a vehicle as early as possible. Providing flexible travel dates and branch pick-up locations in your search may also help increase your options,” Martini said.

Martini said a key contributor to the challenge right now is the global chip shortage, which has impacted new vehicle availability across the industry at a time when demand is already high.

“We continue to work closely with our manufacturing partners to secure additional vehicles to meet the ongoing increase in demand,” Martini said. “Our teams will continue to do everything we can to help customers with their transportation needs.”

Currently, on Expedia’s website, all rental cars on Kaua‘i are sold out from now until early August of 2021. Rental cars in August are starting at $150 to $300 a day, depending on how early it is booked.

Sue Kanoho, executive director of Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau said KVB provided a heads up to the visitor industry a few weeks ago to let them know the car rental shortage is a serious situation and it appears it will not be resolved anytime soon.

“We asked them to reach out to their reservations and remind their guests that they should secure their car first before making airline reservations to see if cars are available for that specific time,” Kanoho said. “We are hearing that rental car agencies are booked as far as two months in advance.”

Konoho said until the computer chip situation gets resolved, we could be facing this car rental shortage for the remainder of the year.

“We also think this could be a good time to revisit the concept of shuttles from Lihue Airport to the key resort areas,” Konoho said. “We certainly think having more Uber or Lyft drivers could really help the situation, while residents could earn some extra income.”

If residents are looking for an opportunity to make extra cash, Lyft, right now on their website — guarantees drivers could make $1900 in their first 30 days of driving if they give 100 Lyft rides.

•••

Stephanie Shinno, business and education reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com.

18 Comments
  1. RGLadder37 May 20, 2021 1:48 am Reply

    They were not prepared. Too few workers and picking up guest during the summer time. Economics. Working at the airport. Yeah, I remember working here for two years. I worked at a junk job at one of the rental cars company. Breathing all those airplane fumes. I had to quit. Too damn much gas and toxicity in the air. Very unhealthy and dangerous to work there.


  2. Me May 20, 2021 4:57 am Reply

    Get pleanty Turo cars still. It’s not that bad…….can still get but book in advance always best idea


  3. nobody May 20, 2021 6:29 am Reply

    Modify the Kauai Bus routes to serve the tourists. By the time anything else is organized it will be too late.
    I do agree this is the time for anyone to make a move with Uber or Lyft.


    1. regina r. koeppel May 20, 2021 12:58 pm Reply

      How about this…stay home. We’re in a pandemic. It’s a rental car. Privileged people…


      1. nobody May 20, 2021 9:28 pm Reply

        No welfare, need to work.


      2. George Ho May 23, 2021 5:51 pm Reply

        Simpleton mindset. Democrat fear-mongered virus panic, that ruined the economy and life styles of milliions. Joke of the century.


  4. Tacoturbo May 20, 2021 8:35 am Reply

    Be aware that if the visitors decide to take public transportation there is a restriction on baggage allowed. It is limited to one carry-on sized item per person. Those with large suit cases and multiple bags will need to seek other means like Uber or a taxi.


  5. Doug May 20, 2021 9:10 am Reply

    “We also think this could be a good time to revisit the concept of shuttles from Lihue Airport to the key resort areas,” Konoho said. Good idea Sue, Let’s get the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau right on that, because it is not the County’s responsibility to spend taxpayer money on this. After all, isn’t this why the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau exists? Get the money from your partner resort areas since they are the ones making a boatload of money off these people.


    1. Rio silver May 20, 2021 4:31 pm Reply

      How sad that the tourist can’t get a car to jam up the roads, make gridlock and drive like a complete covidiot! Don’t get me wrong tourist and tourism can be a great economic provider, provided that the people living on the island reap the benefits of tourism as opposed to sending the profits to mainland companies and making traffic so horrendous that local folks have to change their normal day to day activities to accommodate an overabundance of unfamiliar drivers on the limited roadways we have. And don’t go to Kokee, or Poipu on the one day a week you have off because the parking lot will be filled with rent a cars and you’ll get coughed on by the covidiot who thinks they can do anything because they paid $300 a day for a “”locals”” 15 year old SUV. For the KVB to promote Lyft and rideshare companies is deplorable, or on a nicer note just ignorant. These companies are modern day slave drivers avoiding any liability of the vehicle, and the driver or the passengers that ride in them. The drivers are not employees with employment rights and are at the mercy of an algorithm. The additional traffic that these rideshare companies have made in other localities is well know, and it is not sustainable. Don’t forget autonomous cars are what these rideshare companies sold the world on, so let’s get humans (drivers) to give us all the data we need to get rid of them when the auto driver takes over, real sustainable that is, nice company! …now…Look at Bermuda’s take on tourism,,, no rent a cars , no ride share , but people flock there and pay top dollar for a quality vacation, and you know what the people living in Bermuda working in the transportation / tourism sector, make a living and can send their children to college if they so desire. How many rent a car employees , taxi, tour and rideshare drivers can say that on Kauai!!!. Kauai stop thinking of ways to send money off island and start putting money back in locals pockets. I pray that someday Kauai, the people that live here, and the oceans that surround this aina will benefit from tourism and not be destroyed by it, as that is the course we are on at this very critical time in the islands existence. Let the COVID pause be the light to a better future.


  6. B May 20, 2021 9:56 am Reply

    Why not highlight the amazing opportunity local people are having renting out vehicles? More money in the local economy going back residents giving them opportunity to get ahead. Car dealerships are selling out of vehicles which is good for them and locals. Shame on you garden island for this one sided reporting.


    1. sandi May 22, 2021 10:38 am Reply

      I am tiring very so tiring of “locals” bad mouthing tourists. I do agree that the over abundance of tourists have definitely ruined the aloha spirit of ALL the islands. Humans as a whole do not respect or appreciate the beauty that God has given us with these islands. I see litter and damage all over U.S.A.; but until the governments can figure out how to control tourist numbers, locals need to appreciate that we all want to experience this most beautiful site in the world. And since humans will not educate each other about birth control, only getting married in love, only have child, if in love, and affording a child, there will be more and more and more humans to fly in, and damage the earth upon which they walk. So, please do not bash tourists, if you are not doing your part to keep the population down, teaching respect to your children, and raising them to respect all and comply to all!


  7. Susan May 20, 2021 10:02 am Reply

    Renting/owning a car is a necessary evil in Kauai. It is literally impossible to get around (for residents AND tourists alike) otherwise.

    The bus system here is a joke (wait 1 hour, then ride for 1-2 hours on a one-way trip = there goes 1/4 your day!), the bike paths are dangerous, taxis are a huge rip-off and Uber/Lyft is basically non-existent. If you are a tourist, renting is the only option for having a satisfying visit.

    Our genius governor and mayor nonsensically decided to open up the island to tourism before it was ready to accommodate tens of thousands of weekly visitors, so nobody should be surprised by this clusterf*k. Totally typical for Kauai.


  8. Riosilver May 20, 2021 10:08 am Reply

    How sad that the tourist can’t get a car to jam up the roads, make gridlock and drive like a complete covidiot! Don’t get me wrong tourist and tourism can be a great economic provider, provided that the people living on the island reap the benefits of tourism as opposed to sending the profits to mainland companies and making traffic so horrendous that local folks have to change their normal day to day activities to accommodate an overabundance of unfamiliar drivers on the limited roadways we have. And don’t go to Kokee, or Poipu on the one day a week you have off because the parking lot will be filled with rent a cars and you’ll get coughed on by the covidiot who thinks they can do anything because they paid $300 a day for a “”locals”” 15 year old SUV. For the KVB to promote Lyft and rideshare companies is deplorable, or on a nicer note just ignorant. These companies are modern day slave drivers avoiding any liability of the vehicle, and the driver or the passengers that ride in them. The drivers are not employees with employment rights and are at the mercy of an algorithm. The additional traffic that these rideshare companies have made in other localities is well know, and it is not sustainable. Don’t forget autonomous cars are what these rideshare companies sold the world on, so let’s get humans (drivers) to give us all the data we need to get rid of them when the auto driver takes over, real sustainable that is, nice company! …now…Look at Bermuda’s take on tourism,,, no rent a cars , no ride share , but people flock there and pay top dollar for a quality vacation, and you know what the people living in Bermuda working in the transportation / tourism sector, make a living and can send their children to college if they so desire. How many rent a car employees , taxi, tour and rideshare drivers can say that on Kauai!!!. Kauai stop thinking of ways to send money off island and start putting money back in locals pockets. I pray that someday Kauai, the people that live here, and the oceans that surround this aina will benefit from tourism and not be destroyed by it, as that is the course we are on at this very critical time in the islands existence. Let the COVID pause be the light to a better future.


  9. Canon Bryan May 20, 2021 10:46 am Reply

    I’m happy to Uber around the island; let some locals make some extra dough! I’m absolutely fine with that.


  10. curious dog May 20, 2021 11:53 am Reply

    $1900 for 100 rides = $19 per ride. Driving in Kauai traffic for perhaps 2 hours per ride is $9.50 per hour per ride. After taxes, insurance, gas & maintenance, it could drop to perhaps $6 per ride. 100 rides in 30 days is 3.33 rides per day, 7 days a week. What a wonderful “Opportunity”…for Lyft.

    Better option? Resort Industry creates a ride-sharing Co-op with Rental Car Industry, ridding the island of tour cars & bringing in Tour-Trollies. Charge tourists a set price per day for this convenience & create a cultural side-tour of the island by tour guides while they shuttle them to & fro. Might be way more fun for the tourist & might even be fun for the locals.


  11. Furloughedsinceapril20 May 20, 2021 12:33 pm Reply

    Actually having less cars would be better for those us at the resorts. Too much traffic because mainlanders stocking up at Costco and trying to do thier own excursions on the cheap. Check with the ER at Willcox, constant ambulances arriving now with mainlanders breaking ankles and limbs all over the island. Last week seen video of brada at Queen’s bath getting harrassed. MORE CARS JUST BRINGS MORE ENTITTLED visitors utilizing what small amount resources we have left for the residents. I say less cars means more business for the resorts and tour excursions.


  12. Doug May 21, 2021 9:07 am Reply

    Upon reflection I was wondering why Roberts Hawaii, with all those buses just sitting there (the ones they use to haul around cruise ship passengers) doesn’t set up some routes to and from the airport and to major attractions around the island. I’d rather be behind one of those buses any day than 25 more rental cars!!


  13. Hirondelle May 22, 2021 12:17 pm Reply

    Island Contrariness is on full display here. People want to “open up” and get the economy back up and running but don’t want the tourists, traffic issues, and beach use they bring. A few years ago, a letter writer wondered if travelers were supposed to just fly over the island and throw their wallets out the window; and that must still be a popular concept. Kauai has had over a year to figure out better transportation: the Roberts Bus idea may have merit; shuttles from the airport, resorts advising that there was grocery delivery (including from Costco) during the shutdown; and other creative ideas. What’s that definition about doing the same thing in the same way and expecting a different outcome?


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