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The Future of Car Hire

13th October 1944
Page 15
Page 15, 13th October 1944 — The Future of Car Hire
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

THE hiring out of cars, either for self-drive or with drivers, can*be considered as coming within our purview as, like the operation of taxicabs, it is commercial transport enterprise.

We have formed the opinion—and it is a view corroborated by many people who are interested in road transport—that there will be a considerable extension in this field of activity. Despite the return of laid-up cars, fhe announced intention of the manufacturers to produce new vehicles as soon as possible after receiving the word " go" and the possible influx of used Service models, there is almost certain to be a shortage, for a fairly lengthy period, of what we may term personal motors. Probably, also, we shall have a large number of visitors, both British and foreign, from overseas, and even now many people and associations are endeavouring to formulate schemes to render more attractive the amenities we shall be able to offer to them.

There is, too, little doubt that the general public is heartily tired of the policy of more or less "staying put" and will want to get about more than ever. Consequently, the demand for personal and family mobility is likely to be vastly stronger. All this should result in an enormous call on the hire car, particularly if this branch of the business be thoroughly well organized, so that satisfaction can be ensured.

Present Difficulties Cause High Rates We are not suggesting that the concerns at present engaged in this form of business are not performing their function in a satisfactory manner —at least, to the extent to which the excessively strict rationing of fuel for this type of vehicle and the difficulty of obtaining replacement parts and adequate servicing permit.

The rates, however, are fairly high, possibly due to.the severe restriction on mileage, resulting from the aforementioned small supply of fuel. To encourage greater use when the time comes for expansion, the -charges will have to be far more reasonable.

What we are visualizing are fairly large fleets of comparatively small and, consequently, economical vehicles, which must be maintained in perfect condition both mechanically and as regards their appearance. Whcr e drivers are provided these should be of the best type, alert, but steady; and well versed not only in their road sense and knowledge of the country but as regards behaviour.

Obviously, the charges must be reasonable, much below the rates for those luxury types provided for important functions, aristocratic old ladies and those who place comfort and ostentation above price.

Many people who wish to use cars view with some concern the possibility of increasing congestion on our roads until these are rebuilt to meet our potential traffic needs, which phase must occupy a considerable period, and such would-be motorists will probably require the service of skilled drivers, but there should always be a demand for cars obtained on the self-drive hire basis.

Hiring May Attract Motorists Even during the war period many erstwhile car owners have found that it is cheaper to employ' hired vehicles for particular journeys and purposes than to maintain their own vehicles. Large numbers of motorists in the pre-war days used their cars only at week-ends. Consequently, their overhead costs were spread over a small mileage, and there is little doubt that some of these people will continue the policy of hiring rather than purchasing.

Recently, one man who has owned cars for many years said that he would never return to the practice of bringing his family to town for a theatre, running around to find gatitge room for the car, possibly some distance away, then being forced in bad weather to search for a taxi in order to rejoin his theatre party in a reasonably smart condition, with a similar procedure after leaving the show, or the prospect of a walk through rain or snow at the beginning and end if taxis were not available. At the home terminal, also, unless the owner had his own private garage attached to his house, it meant another walk. Hiring, if he could obtain suitable vehicles at fair charges. would be his aim for the future.

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