Main captive customers in the automobile industry, rental companies that buy cars directly from the factories, usually at high discounts, began to look for supply alternatives, resorting to dealerships and even to the used-model market to renew their fleets.
Even with a movement that started recently, the return of rented cars by application drivers – this time because of the high price of gasoline –, the president of Brazilian Association of Car Rental Companies (Abla), Paulo Miguel Júnior, says that there is a lack of products in companies because of the reduction in deliveries by manufacturers, due to difficulties in production due to the lack of semiconductors.
According to him, around 30,000 cars. In 2020, when people were stranded at home by the pandemic, around 160,000 app cars returned to rental companies. This “loss”, says the Executive, was recovered last year.
With the drastic drop in deliveries from the first quarter, the rental companies, which in the last five years have been with 20% on average of the total cars and light commercials sold in the country, saw this participation drop to 15%.
Of the 1.33 million cars and light commercial vehicles sold up to August, almost 200 thousand went to the rental market, a calculation based on data from the National Federation of Automotive Vehicle Distribution (Fenabrave).
The decline in the share of sales comes at a time when the newest form of rental by subscription, with terms of up to three years, has grown, as well as the outsourcing of company fleets, which are seeing more advantage in leasing than in ownership of vehicles.
“Those who buy a car for rental are mining vehicles”, says Miguel Júnior. “In order not to let the customer down, especially those who need to replace the fleet, we are looking for several alternatives, such as going through dealerships and buying what they still have in stock,” he says, adding that even used cars are in the industry’s sights , but in this segment it is also difficult to find models with low mileage.
According to Miguel Júnior, there are waiting lines for rental by subscription and fleets. At dealerships there are also lines and, if there was an offer, Fenabrave calculates that retail sales would be 15% to 20% higher than current numbers.
Abla represents around 11 thousand car rental companies throughout the country. At the beginning of the year, the organization informed that the sector intended to buy 800 thousand vehicles this year. “With the difficulty of supply, we reduced it to 450 thousand in the middle of the year and now we are talking about around 380 thousand”, informs Miguel Júnior.
Discounts obtained from automakers in direct purchase, which before the pandemic were in the range of 20% to 30%, were reduced by half or even more. For the final consumer, bonuses also fell, but Fenabrave does not have data on percentages. On average, car prices have risen 30% this year.
Miguel Júnior informs that some models that have arrived now are from orders made last year. Even so, he believes it is possible that, by the end of the year, rental companies will be able to buy the 180,000 cars that are still missing to reach the already reduced goal.
According to him, there are models with four to eight months of waiting, but companies are accepting what is available.
Direct sales are also considered those made to large fleet owners, rural producers, taxi drivers, people with disabilities (PCD), legal entities and governments, although part of them is made by the concessionaires, but the billing is made by the factories, also with discounts above those data to the normal consumer.
Putting it all together, direct sales from January to August correspond to 42.5% of the total of cars and light commercial vehicles, which means around 565,000 units. Despite the lack of products in stores, where businesses give greater return to manufacturers, the share of direct sales has been around 40% for five years, having peaked in 2019, when it reached 45.7% (see painting).
According to the executive director of Fenabrave, Marcelo Franciulli, there was no significant change in the slices of corporate sales and those made in retail – which grew by 14% compared to the same period last year –, but the offer of products reduced for both.
Cassio Pagliarini, from Bright Consulting, points out that rental companies are the “exhaust valve” of automakers and are usually ready to negotiate the volumes that manufacturers are unable to place on the market.” This year, even with the queues in retail, the segment has received its share of cars. “Despite the lower profitability, manufacturers need to keep the machine running”, not least because direct sales help the sector to have a larger scale of production.
Direct sales gain space in the sector
Direct sales are on the rise in the automotive sector. Leader in total sales of automobiles and light commercial vehicles this year, with a 23% share and a large advantage over the second place – Volkswagen, with 15.5% –, Fiat is also ahead in direct sales volume.
Until August, 60% of sales of the Italian brand were to rental companies, fleet owners, rural producers, taxi drivers, people with disabilities (PCD), legal entities and governments, according to data compiled by Fenabrave and Bright Consulting.
The champion in direct sales, however, is Jeep, which belongs to the same holding company as Fiat, Stellantis. The brand that produces the SUVs Renegade, Compass and, as of last week, Commander has 73% of its business focused on the corporate and PCD segment.
Volkswagen, second in the total ranking, this year sold 47% of its models directly, while for General Motors, which occupies the third position in total sales, this share was 37%. In all the cases mentioned, the share in direct sales is more or less in the same proportions in the last three years.
the pickup Fiat Strada is the leader in direct sales, with 62.4 thousand units. In retail, it is in 15th place, with 17.2 thousand units. O Jeep Renegade, second in the list of corporate sales, with 38,900 units, is 18th in the retail list, with 15,300 units.
In third place is the Jeep Compass, with 34.7 thousand units, while in retail 11.3 thousand were sold, leaving the model in 24th position. O Volkswagen Goal, the fourth most sold directly, with 28.9 thousand units, is the 21st in the retail ranking, with 13.9 thousand units.