Vans are set to power the recovery in daily rental, Epyx is predicting, with recent weeks having seen a decisive shift in demand.
Overall volumes on the firm’s 1link Hire Network platform, which is used by more than 50 vehicle hire suppliers in the UK, have now hit 60% of pre-lockdown levels; clearly some way short of a full recovery but a “definite and marked turnaround” compared to the quietest parts of lockdown, when demand was extremely low with only essential services fleets taking vehicles.
Tim Meadows, vice president and commercial director at Epyx, said: “Volumes certainly appear to be picking up and solidifying, a trend that is being powered almost entirely by vans and other light commercial vehicles as the economy moves into the ‘new normal’.
“Most of the demand now being seen is coming from the types of businesses that have proven countercyclical during the coronavirus crisis, such as home delivery and pharmaceuticals. Rental-wise, these businesses are leading the way out of lockdown.”
Latest analysis of Department for Transport data backs this up; the figures show light commercial and heavy goods vehicle traffic has returned to pre-lockdown levels, providing some positive news when it comes to the economy.
However, Meadows said that rentals from other sectors appeared to be gradually emerging as businesses restarted normal activities.
“Our feeling is that we do not necessarily expect to see an unbroken upwards line in rental volumes over the rest of 2020. It is possible, even probable, that there are some hiccoughs along the way, especially if there are disruptive factors such as more local lockdowns of the kind now being seen in Leicester. However, we are confident that there will be a gradual underlying recovery,” he outlined.
Meadows added that demand for car hire remained historically low and that there was limited prospect of this changing in the short term.
“The fact is that large numbers of the kinds of employees who would previously have needed rental cars are working from home and dealing with all of their meetings through video-conferencing.
“Until this situation changes, it is difficult to see rentals improving, and that might not occur until there is a development such as a vaccine or effective treatment for coronavirus.”