Car hire in the UK

Owning a car can be quite expensive, so it's no surprise that hiring one is becoming a more popular option for those wanting to avoid buying a car outright.

There’s no question that owning a car can put a big dent in your finances. Excluding buying the car itself, running a car costs UK drivers an average of £162 a month. It’s no surprise then that hiring a car has become a popular option for those wanting to avoid buying a car outright.

Quick facts

  • Personal car hire contracts made up over half (57%) of all car contracts in 2018.
  • Personal car hire contracts made up 64% of all new car contracts in 2018.
  • The mean car hire duration is 36 hours.
  • It costs £157.08 on average to rent a car for a week, or £22.33 per day.

Revenue from the UK car rental industry

Revenue from the rental and leasing of UK cars and light motor vehicles has been steadily increasing from 2012 to 2019, and it is estimated to continue to increase to 2024. Car rental companies make about £272 per rental, which equates to quite a big sum of cash when multiple people take out a car for a day or two.

How revenue will be affected by COVID-19 remains to be seen. It may decrease due to fewer tourists, but it could also be maintained by glamping and staycationing Brits.

During the 12-year period from 2012 to 2024, the average revenue increase is 5.32% per year, or £700 million from one year to the next. By 2024, revenue is expected to amount to £18.23 billion.

Year Revenue (*estimated)
2012 £9.83 billion
2013 £10.55 billion
2014 £11.94 billion
2015 £12.27 billion
2016 £13.15 billion
2017 £14.01 billion
2018 £14.84 billion
2019 £15.45 billion
2020 £16.07 billion*
2021 £16.66 billion*
2022 £17.21 billion*
2023 £17.73 billion*
2024 £18.23 billion*

The largest vehicle hire companies by fleet size

The largest fleet of rental cars is owned by Lex Autolease with no less than 358,838 vehicles in its UK fleet. The next-largest fleet (Volkswagen Financial Services) has 195,503 vehicles, while the rental company with the least number of vehicles is Santander Consumer Contract Hire, with 26,591 vehicles.

Company Number of vehicles
Lex Autolease 358,838
Volkswagen Financial Services 195,503
LeasePlan UK 174,663
Arval UK 167,505
ALD Automotive 145,133
Alphabet GB Limited 138,608
Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions 64,811
Zenith 54,547
Free2Move Lease 54,469
Arnold Clark Finance 53,290
Santander Consumer Contract Hire 26,591

The types of contracts people are choosing

The majority of contracts are for personal car hire or business car hire.

Business car hire over this three-year period remains fairly constant, with an average of 83,000 cars hired under this type of contract every year. This type of contract is significantly higher than all “other” types of car contracts and is an average of 7.6 times higher over the three-year period. Personal car hire has seen a spike in the number of contracts between 2015 and 2018, more than doubling (2.3x) in this period.

Type of contract 2015 2016 2017 2018
Business car hire 78,000 85,000 84,000 84,000
Personal car hire 56,000 88,000 100,000 130,000
Other 11,000 12,000 11,000 10,000


Office for National Statistics
Fleet News
The Car Expert

Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact:

Matt Mckenna
UK communications manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806

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