Car hire accelerates with one in five planning to rent

  • More than a third renting in the 12 months will be first timers
  • Zegami joint venture with Ebbon Group pioneers smart repair and damage identification for the automotive sector

New research(1) from Zegami, an Oxford-based data visualisation platform, shows nearly one in five drivers (18%) plan to hire a car in the next 12 months with more than a third (34%) renting a vehicle for the first time.

The findings highlight the growing demand in the car rental market with under-45s leading the way. More than a quarter (26%) of under-45s plan to rent and 54% of them will be first timers.

Zegami, which has agreed a joint venture with automotive technology solutions provider Ebbon Group to develop smart repair and damage identification systems, says its research shows demand is being driven by holidaymakers but also by people considering ditching their car to save money and help the environment.

The joint venture business Ebbon Intelligence will enable car hire companies to accurately assess depth and detail of damage to vehicles during rentals benefiting customers and firms.

Research shows it is a major worry – one in eight (12%) who have rented cars in the past five years say the vehicle was damaged before they drove it away. More than a quarter (27%) say the damage had not been properly recorded by the car hire company. Nearly one in 20 (4%) say rental firms tried to blame them for damage.

But it cuts both ways – two-thirds of people who have damaged rental cars while driving them in the past five years say the firm did not pick up the damage when it was returned.

Robert Pilkington, joint CEO at Ebbon Group, said:

“We are very excited by this new venture with Zegami. Our initial focus will be on the identification of changes in the condition of vehicles between hires for rental, movements for leasing and for potential applications to commercial vehicles from our DAVIS vehicle and driver risk platform.”

Roger Noble, CEO and founder of Zegami said:

“Renting a car is becoming increasingly popular and helps save money as well as cutting emissions as fewer drivers own vehicles.

“But it is a common concern that drivers can get unfairly blamed for damage to cars and end up facing repair bills. The same applies to rental firms if they don’t record damage to cars.

“Data imaging and machine learning enables both drivers and rental firms to be confident that damage is accurately recorded, and our joint venture Ebbon Intelligence will have a wide range of practical applications in the automotive sector.”

A team from Zegami is working with Ebbon to help adapt technologies for the fleet, rental, risk, compliance, and other related automotive sectors as part of the joint venture.

Zegami’s roots are in healthcare and life science and its cloud-based platform is extremely sophisticated and highly visual. It has recently developed a system to analyse large numbers of mammograms and identify abnormalities, which is the first stage of breast cancer screening.

(1)Zegami commissioned the market research company Consumer Intelligence to survey 1,040 people from across the UK.  They represented the UK’s demographic profile.  Interviews were conducted online on March 1st, 2021.