Europcar says market conditions have changed enormously in last 18 months
A man from Northern Ireland has spoken of his shock at being quoted more than £1,200 to hire a car in Belfast — almost nine times the amount he paid the last time he was here two years ago.
Colin Young, who now lives in Paris, had planned to use a small hatchback when he came home for a 13-day break to visit his family.
Given the “astronomical” cost of car hire, however, the graphic artist said he was going to give the hire car a miss during this trip and use taxis instead.
When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph, Europcar defended the price hike, saying: "Market conditions have changed enormously in the last 18 months ".
A spokesperson added: "Numerous factors, from access to staff and difficulties in vehicle supply due to the current semi-conductors crisis and the related fleet shortage, to the increased levels of cleaning between rentals weigh on the costs for the rental sector as a whole."
Had Belfast native Colin been going in the opposite direction, and seeking to hire a car in France, he could have had a luxury Range Rover Velar — which costs nearly £50,000 new — for the same money.
He also revealed that he’d paid less than £200 back in May 2019 for BOTH his flights to and from Northern Ireland and car rental.
“I kept my receipt, which shows it cost just €111.47 (£95) to hire a car from May 2 until May 10 in Northern Ireland two years ago,” he told this newspaper.
“When I priced a similar car this time, the hire cost from October 22 until November 3 was between £1,236 and £1,278 for the cheapest vehicles.”
Research from the Belfast Telegraph discovered that it is possible to hire cheaper vehicles, but we also found that there are significant variations in price, depending on the website you choose.
We also discovered that higher prices are quoted if you are inquiring online from the EU, with the average hike around 10%.
Colin said he consulted the Europcar site, which he’d used previously as it’s linked to the airline with which he is flying.
Bewildered by the results, he revealed that he’d also looked at the price of hiring vehicles in Paris for the sake of comparison.
“I decided to price an equivalent rental period in Paris and it was almost the exact same price (£1,278.96) for a Range Rover,” he said.
“That’s quite a bargain, compared with the Vauxhall Crossland [worth £18,000] you’d get for the same money in Belfast.
The 56-year-old continued: “Whatever way you look at it, the price of renting a vehicle in Northern Ireland has gone up by an astronomical amount.”
Mr Young, who was hoping to hire a small car, said the cheapest available options he was quoted were a Vauxhall Corsa (or similar economy) for £1,236.46 or a Crossland X (or similar) at £1,277.80.
The pick-up and drop-off point on both vehicles on both dates was Belfast International Airport.
“When I hired a car back in May 2019 it worked out around £10.60 a day,” he said.
“But if I wanted to rent a similar vehicle this October, you’re talking about £95.11 per day being advertised.”
Colin, who lives with his partner Cecile and their son Joel (12) in the French capital, made his original booking with Europcar, which he also consulted ahead of this year’s trip.
But he revealed that he also checked the cost of car rental on other comparison websites, but found “they were all coming up the same”.