Gasoline prices climbed sharply in March but the higher cost for gas is not hurting RV rental reservations for this summer, according to spokesmen for Cruise America and El Monte RV, the two largest RV rental firms.
It appears that gas prices have now plateaued around the current national average of $1.41 a gallon for self-serve regular and gas prices will not dampen the demand for RV rentals unless they go significantly above the current level, said Joe Laing, El Monte’s marketing director.
Each summer, people realize they will need to pay more for gas because of higher demand from motorists in general, Laing said. “And when you consider that the average motorhome vacation costs around $2,250, not including food and campground fees, even a substantial increase of $1 per gallon would amount to less that a 5% increase in the total cost of the trip.
“Rental demand was strong last summer when gas prices were even higher,” he added.
During April 2001, regular unleaded sold for a national average of $1.62 a gallon and the highest ever recorded was $1.72 during May 2001, according to the American Automobile Association’s (AAA) Daily Fuel Gauge Report.
Meanwhile, Cruise America is offering a “Fuel Cost Protection Program” again this summer, although Marketing Director Bob Caldarone agrees that fuel costs are not a factor now in the rental market.
“(Gas) prices are lower (now) than they were the last two years at this time,” Caldarone said. “Prices have leveled off.”
The federal government recently estimated that motorists will pay an average of $1.46 a gallon for regular unleaded this summer. Last summer, the average price was $1.54 a gallon.
Prices stabilized because there was a “greater inventory cushion this year at the start of the driving season,” according to the Energy Information Administration, a division of the U.S. Energy Department.
For its fuel cost protection program, Cruise America set $1.35 a gallon as the base. It lowers the mileage rate paid by renters by the difference between what the customer pays for gas and the $1.35 a gallon base amount.