This post is also available in: Japanese
Travelling around the UK and Ireland in the past couple of months has been an insight into the unpredictable impacts of the pandemic and the disruption of global supply chains on people’s everyday lives. I went to Ireland in August, to see my family in Cork, spending the first few days in Dublin. There was a very prosperous buzz there, but many young people were complaining about the cost of living, particularly rent and house prices.
Dublin was full of American tourists but in the holiday area on the coast of county Cork, there were very few Americans and most of the tourists seemed to be British. Usually, American tourists like to hire a car from Dublin airport and then tour around Ireland, often in search of their Irish ancestry. But this year they were quoted such high prices for car hire that they decided to stay in Dublin and travel by train or go on a coach tour to other locations.
The high price of car hire is due to the car hire firms being unable to take delivery of new cars at the rate they would normally expect, so there is a shortage of cars to hire if they retire old stock. Similarly, individual drivers are waiting longer for new cars so have to keep to their old cars longer, which then break down, and parts cannot be obtained easily for repair. They then have to hire a car while they wait for their old car to be fixed – putting further pressure on supply.
When I hired a car last month to drive to Kent, in the southeast of England, it broke down. The repair man was immediately able to spot the problem. The car needed a new battery as the existing one was too old to recharge properly. He also noticed that the coolant had completely run out. The car had clearly not been valeted as there were stains on the seats and dirt on the floor. The repair man told us that car hire firms are having to re-hire their cars so quickly, they do not have time to give them a proper service or clean.
Back in Ireland, my cousin, who is a conveyancer, told me that although there were fewer American tourists in Cork, she was selling more properties to Americans than before the pandemic. Cork has been a popular location for American IT and pharmaceutical companies for some years, but more recently American employees have relocated from the USA to work from Ireland. Now remote or hybrid working has become more acceptable, they felt happier about their families being raised and educated in Ireland, than having to endure active shooter drills at schools in the USA.
I am about to hire a car in France, where apparently second-hand cars are selling for the same price as new, and some people are resorting to hiring cars from individuals rather than car hire firms. I am bracing myself for what I might be about to experience.
This article by Pernille Rudlin first appeared in Japanese in the Teikoku Databank News in November 2022
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