Whole loads of hire cars available, but is there the demand? | Miquel A. Cañellas

The huge number of hire cars in the Balearics this summer, more than ever before, is leading to a reduction in prices. The president of the Aevab car-rental agencies' association, Ramón Reus, says that cars are more economical but they are also less profitable. He points out that prices are in some instances 50% lower than on the mainland, meaning a day rate here of between 30 and 40 euros compared with 60 euros in other parts of Spain. Because of this he is calling for regulation to avoid "saturation".

It is reckoned that there are between 85,000 and 90,000 hire cars on the islands, the total fleet enlarged by the operations of multinationals - Avis, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt - and the large "low-cost" companies, such as Centauro, Goldcar, OK and Record. The volume of cars is attributed, as are other manifestations of touristic "overcrowding" this summer, to events elsewhere, notably Turkey. Cars that might otherwise have gone there have ended up in the Balearics.

One impact of this is that giant parking lots for hire cars at the Son Oms estate have thousands of vehicles which are not being used. There is more supply than there is demand, despite the fall in prices charged to consumers.

In addition to the hire cars apparently adding to heavy traffic on the islands' main roads, there are also the private cars that have been coming in on ferries. In June, for instance, the shipping companies Balearia and Trasmediterránea brought in almost 50,000 cars, an increase of getting on for seven per cent.

The apparent mismatch between hire-car supply and demand that Aevab is now alluding to seems at variance with what was being reported last week. From 8 August it was said (by the association) that it would be difficult to find a car.