Study: Car Rental trends in Europe and North America


An international car rental services has released a study of 2016 booking data, which includes a forecast of European travel trends for the second half of 2016.

According to the June report issued by the U.S. Department of commerce, National Travel and Tourism Office, the volume of travel to Europe by U.S. citizens was up 7.1% for the 1st 5 months of the year compared to the 1st 5 months of 2015. This trend was mirrored in the increase in the number of U.S. & Canadian residents renting cars abroad during the 1st half of 2016. In the study below we review trends in pickup countries & cities, vehicle transmission types, as well as actual pickup locations. We also provide an early-bird view of the trends in pick up locations currently booked for the 2nd half of 2016.

Most Popular Pickup Country by U.S. State
After reviewing the new car rental bookings made January 1 – June 20; Italy continues to be the most popular European pickup location booked by U.S. residents, accounting for 23.5% of all U.S. bookings made in the 1st half of the year (down slightly from 24.9% for all U.S. bookings made during the 1st half of 2015).

The 2nd & 3rd most popular pickup countries in 2016 booked by volume are France & Great Britain, accounting for just over 17% and almost 10% of all 1st half bookings respectively. As we saw in the results after the 1st quarter, Ireland narrowly missed ranking in the top 3 by less than a 1% margin.

Top 10 European Pickup Cities for U.S. Residents in the 1st Half of 2016
Based on our data reporting car rentals picked up in Europe by U.S. residents during the 1st half of 2016, the list of the top 10 pickup cities shifted considerably since the 1st half of last year. The most notable shift was Lisbon, jumping 11 positions to round out the list of top 10 pickup destinations. Another shift that we discovered in our 1st quarter recap was Dublin’s increase in popularity year over year, a trend that continued into the 2nd quarter.

Top 10 European Pickup Cities for Canadian Residents in the 1st Half of 2016
We also reviewed the top European pickup cities for Canadian residents in the 1st half of 2016 compared to the 1st half of 2015. We found that the list only shuffled slightly with the exception of Nice jumping an impressive 13 positions to oust Frankfurt as the 10th most popular pickup destination.

Transmission Type of Vehicles Rented in the 1st Half of 2016
We also reviewed the transmission type of the vehicles rented by U.S. & Canadians in Europe during the 1st half of the year. As exhibited in the graph below, the majority of travelers opted to rent a manual transmission vehicle which is a great way to save money on automatic vehicles that are not only scarce but also in high demand during the busy summer months.

Most Popular Pickup Cities for the 2nd Half of 2016
With summer in full swing we were curious to see the most popular European cities booked by U.S. and Canadian residents for pickup in the 2nd half of 2016. As we found in our early bird view for summer trends, Rome will continue to be the most popular pickup destination during the 2nd half of the year. Dublin jumped in popularity compared to our 1st quarter results, forcing Paris to the 3rd most popular ranking.

Average Duration of Rental for the 2nd Half of 2016

In terms of trip duration, travelers scheduled to pick up their vehicles during the 2nd half of the year have opted to extend their trips slightly in 4 of the top 5 most popular pickup cities. Travelers to Paris have extended their trips the most, adding over a full day and a half to their itineraries compared to the same booking period last year. Travelers to London were the only ones to reduce their travel, a trend that mirrors the finds from our Q1 study.