Vehicle Rentals: A HistoryJune 24, 2016
The ease and convenience of renting a vehicle is something we take for granted today. If you’re moving house or need to transport or deliver goods, it’s as simple as contacting the right company and arranging your rental service just like that. But how did the vehicle rental industry develop to be so widespread and comprehensive? Where did it all begin?
The team here at i-Drive Van Hire are here to guide you through the history of vehicle rentals across the world, so sit back and enjoy the ride.
First rental company
Vehicle renting became recognised as a prospective business by numerous entrepreneurs and was developed in the early 20th century. The first recorded example of vehicles available to rent was in Germany, 1912, where Martin Sixt offered his fleet of three vehicles for hire.
There is a reference to cars being available to rent before this, but not in such an official capacity, when a bicycle shop in 1904 Minneapolis advertised that it had cars available to hire.
Rentals in America
The vehicle for hire business really began to take shape in 1916 when a man from Omaha Nebraska named Joe Saunders rented out a Ford Model T to a travelling businessman. Saunders used a mileage meter to charge 10 cents a mile to cover the wear and tear of his vehicle. Saunders quickly realised the potential for profit and turned his attention to making vehicle rentals his primary business and source of income.
With the effort of Saunders and his two brothers, the available fleet expanded quickly and, by 1926, Saunders’ independent car rental company was operating in 56 cities, using Kansas City as the location for the company headquarters.
While Saunders was carving his name into automotive history, another entrepreneur with an eye for the future was making waves in Chicago. Walter L. Jacobs saw rapid expansion from his initial fleet of 12 cars – rented out at $10 a day – to 565 by 1923, with annual rentals bringing in $1,000,000. Jacobs and Saunders were seen as the spearheads of the rental industry, and in 1923 Jacobs’ rental firm was purchased by John D.Hertz – head of the Yellow Cab Manufacturing Company – which would go on to form one of the largest rental firms in the US.
Rentals in England and the post World War II boom
The vehicle rental industry found its way to the UK in 1920 and grew rapidly as it did in America. More and more people saw the allure and convenience of hiring vehicles, and more and more people saw the profit in offering their services.
The vehicle industry as a whole expanded greatly and the development in travel worldwide after World War II gave rental companies even greater opportunity to expand and establish. It became common for vehicle hire to be available from airports and railway stations to accommodate those in need of transport when travelling to new places and, as the years went on, the infrastructure of vehicle hire worldwide became more comprehensive. Major companies had branches everywhere, becoming international players, and offered customers a huge range of vehicles to choose from.
Naturally, vehicle rental grew accommodate more than just cars, and van rental would become an important aspect of the vehicle hire industry. As the years went by and people’s demands changed from wanting to hire cars for the pleasure of driving to more practical purposes like moving goods and making deliveries, van rental became a lucrative business.
Van rental has carved out its own place in the rental industry, offering customers more than just leisure. People need to move home, office and supplies all the time so van hire is a natural evolution of the rental industry. i-Drive Van Hire proudly continues the tradition of the vehicle hire industry, with a wide range of vans in all sizes available for hire today.
The vehicle renting industry has never slowed down and that has been emphasised in the 21st century. Vehicle hire has only become more accessible and convenient for customers. A huge range of vehicles, models and makes are on offer nowadays – even boats and helicopters can be hired – and as demand has grown, so has the ability of the industry to meet it.
There is an extraordinary number of businesses operating today which has brought another dimension to vehicle hire. Commercial van hire gives businesses the opportunity to expand their operations without having to outright own a fleet of vehicles, so they can flexibly manage deliveries and transit to demand. i-Drive Van Hire offers discounted rates on long term van hire for businesses, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’re in need of a van to supplement your business.
The vehicle renting industry continues to thrive, carrying on its century-long history with no signs of stopping as demand grows and the ability to rent becomes increasingly more convenient.
i-Drive Van Hire offers top quality, modern and well-maintained vans for short term and long term hire. We offer highly competitive rates to our customers in the entire East Midlands area, including discounts for longer term rentals. For a free quote and more information on the kinds of van available for hire, get in touch with our friendly team today.