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Darwin faces an unprecedented shortage of rental cars ahead of the dry season

A shortage of rental cars is forecast in the Top End before a busy dry season.

Important points:

  • Darwin tourism authorities are concerned about a tight rental car market
  • A local car rental company almost booked their last cars for June and July
  • The finger is pointed at the shortage of new and used cars, flights at half price and block bookings in the raw materials sector

A rush hour wedding, long lead time for new cars, and half price domestic flights make for a perfect storm for a shortage of rental cars.

J’s Car Hire is a second tier car rental company that rents older cars.

James De Dassel said most of his cars have been on the road since the 2020 dry season.

“It’s unprecedented,” he said.

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“Because of the structure and the wetness, I’ve never seen it like this in the 12 years we’ve been there.

“I think it’s going to be crazy. I think there will be a shortage.”

He said his June and July bookings were almost full.

“With the half-price flights, we get large inquiries, emails and phone calls for most of the day,” said De Dassel.

A man in a black shirt standing next to a blue limousine in front of a branded wall.JJ’s car rental company James de Dassel. (

Delivered: JJ’s car rental


Book early, book often

Glen Hingley, General Manager of Tourism Top End, has 10 affiliated rental companies booked through his CBD tourism office and the phones are hot.

He said there are macro factors affecting the rental market, all due to COVID-19.

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“A lot of companies were able to sell these cars or move these fleets south and it was difficult to get them back,” he said.

“With the new car market, Japan is not sending cars to Australia as quickly as it was in 2019.

“We also have a bit of competition with the raw materials sector, which does a lot of car rental.”

Photo of Glen Hingley, General Manager of Tourism Top End, crossing his arms in the Tourism Top End office.Glen Hingley, General Manager of Tourism Top End, advises visitors to plan ahead. (

ABC News: Jesse Thompson


Mr. Hingley advised visitors to plan ahead.

“Book early and have some flexibility with the dates,” he said.

Mr Hingley also said seven cars had just returned from the Easter weekend with damage and are now waiting to be repaired, which is affecting the rental.

Supply and demand problem

Corporate headshot of man smiling in a blue shirt in an office with a painting behind.Anthony Hill, CEO of the Automobile Association Northern Territory, says the industry is facing a supply and demand problem. (

Delivered: AANT


Anthony Hill, executive director of the Automobile Association NT, said it was a simple supply and demand problem.

“I know some manufacturers face part problems,” he said.

“The car rental industry has ordered cars but they are told it could take six months for supplies to return to normal.

“But it’s not just normal cars, there is currently a high demand for all-wheel drives up here.”

Mr. Hill advised booking early and also considering organized tours.

The other car rental companies in Darwin and the Minister of Tourism were asked to comment.

A clean, empty city parking lot with blue skies.There are fears that tourists in Darwin will have difficulty finding a rental car during this dry season. (

Delivered: mytdx 4 / Flickr



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