The price of renting a car can be as high as $5,000 a month in some places, but for people in Maui, where the cost of renting is among the highest in the country, the price is astronomical.
For the first time, the state Department of Housing and Economic Development has begun listing cars as part of the housing market.
And now, the Department of Business Development is listing cars, too.
The goal of the listing is to get the car rental industry off the ground in the state, said David Hogg, deputy director of the Department’s Office of Housing Development.
And while there are plenty of options to choose from in Maua, the market is so saturated that the state’s Department of Transportation, which manages roads in the region, has been limited in its ability to put more cars on the roads, said Scott Denson, the director of transportation.
The department also has to figure out how to get people to use public transportation, and that can get expensive, Denson said.
For example, in 2015, the agency spent $4,000 to buy a vehicle that cost about $13,000.
“The market for rental cars in Mauia is saturated and we are not going to be able to do the best we can with this limited supply,” he said.
But that’s not stopping the state from launching a statewide pilot program that will provide rental cars to anyone who can prove they can afford them.
Hogg said the Department is in talks with some local car rental companies to offer the cars to people who have cars but are trying to find places that would pay a rental fee.
Denson said the department is working with the local rental companies, and some rental companies are willing to provide rental car assistance to people with cars.
The state hopes to have the program up and running by late fall, he said, but that may be pushed back because the state is working on a state budget that will allow it to wait until the end of the year to put cars on sale.
The program, which is not aimed at people who live in Hawaii, would only apply to people living in Hawaii.
The Department of Finance has been working on the program for about two years, Densons office said.
To qualify for the program, applicants would have to be between 18 and 40 years old, be eligible for a driver’s license or have lived in Mauai for at least two years.
The price for a rental car would be $5 a month.
Once approved, the department will work with the rental companies on how they will operate, Dansons office added.
There are several rental companies in Mauio, and the Department has been talking to a few, but no one is yet accepting reservations, Dinsons office wrote in an email.
If the program is approved, Maui residents will be able apply to rent a rental vehicle from one of the companies and receive a rental discount.
For more information about the rental car program, visit www.mauia.gov/rvh.
The rental program is intended to be available for two years and will run until July 1, 2020, said Daniel Johnson, director of marketing and communications for the department.