For two days, it was nearly impossible to find rental cars in St. Louis

For two days, it was nearly impossible to find rental cars in St. Louis

It was the end of the rental car world.

For Thursdays and most Fridays, there were no rental cars available at any local dealership for love or money.

Well, if you have enough money, you can rent a car from St. Louis Exotics, a subsidiary of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Ladue offered what it calls supersports cars — a Maserati Ghibli or a Mercedes E-Class Coupe, for example — for $279.99 a day.

Range Rover and similar SUVs cost a little more.

But other than that, even Love couldn’t get hold of a car—though some did become available late on a Friday afternoon.

U-Haul was outside the pickup trucks. But if you positively need transportation and don’t particularly care what it looks like, you can rent one of their moving vans. Not only can you have a car, but it comes with at least 402 cubic feet of towing space.

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Michael Wilming, director of public relations at Enterprise, which also owns National Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car, said rental car demand was strong throughout the summer and into September.

Car rental locations in St. Louis have been hit hard this week by Joyce Meyer Ministries’ Love Life Women’s Conference, which takes place Thursday through Saturday at the Dome at the Center for America.

Jeremiah Matthews, sales agent at Dollar Rent a Car at St. Louis Lambert International Airport, said the office rented a large number of cars to people who attended the conference. The Ministry is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year.

Brianna Konner-Heinz, another sales agent at the Dollar Rent a Car Airport location, said rental car sales are not uncommon. It may happen twice a month. She said weekdays are usually busier than weekends.

She added that when flash floods destroyed a lot of private cars in August, car rental agencies sold out quickly and for a while.

The industry was hit hard by the coronavirus in 2020, when travel was largely halted. Car rental companies sharply reduced purchases of their new fleet that year, and they were caught without enough cars when travel came back in 2021 and into this year.

According to an article in Barron’s, “Corporate fleet sizes are depleted by problems securing new vehicles after an early pandemic sale.”

Wilmering said Enterprise has seen a “significant improvement” in rebuilding its fleet, compared to last year. The problem now is the global shortage of microchips needed for today’s cars and other supply chain issues that limit the availability of new cars, he said in the statement.

In order to make sure you have a car when you need it, he said, make a reservation as soon as possible.

But sometimes, even booking won’t help.

Brandon Galloway traveled from Houston to St. Louis on Friday to attend a wedding in Mount Vernon, Illinois. He had a reservation with the National Car Rental Company for three months. But his flight was delayed.

He called the car rental company, who told him they would hold the reservation for 24 hours. Anything longer than that will expire the reservation.

A few hours later, he was about to board his plane at George Bush International Airport in Houston.

“I looked at my app to see my reservation number. The reservation no longer exists,” he said. Not only that, the company had no record of his existence whatsoever, although it could prove that he did.

He tried all the other car rental companies in town and found out that they were all sold out.

Finally, he said, “I visited Priceline and booked one through Avis.”

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