U-Haul Truck Rental Rates Reflect Relative Demand
U-Haul rates for a one-way 26 foot truck rental:
Detroit, MI to Houston, TX: $2,215
Houston, TX to Detroit, MI: $617
On this previous post, there seems to be some disagreement about whether U-Haul's one-way rental rates reflect relative demand for truck rentals. Although there certainly could be other factors (tax differences, etc.), I would argue that one-way U-Haul truck rental rates reflect primarily differences in relative demand.
The rates above illustrate the significant differences in demand for trucks going from Detroit to Houston (high demand) compared to the low demand for trucks going from Houston to Detroit. From U-Haul's standpoint, it will have shortages of trucks in Detroit due to the high demand for one-way rentals, and surpluses of trucks in Houston due to the low demand for trucks in the opposite direction. Therefore, U-Haul uses dynamic pricing to reflect relative differences in supply and demand for one-way rentals between Detroit and Houston. In an ideal world for U-Haul, it would like to have equal demand for truck rental in both directions for each pair of cities, to equalize the distribution of trucks around the country. Since that never happens, it prices one-way truck rentals based on relative demand: high prices for high demand one-way rentals and low prices for low demand one-way rentals.
In the previous example of Los Angeles and Las Vegas the price differentials weren't nearly as great, but perhaps this more striking example of Detroit-Houston will help illustrate how market forces determine pricing. Based on the differences in one-way truck rental rates, there is almost 4x as much demand for 26 foot trucks going from Detroit-Houston as for trucks going from Houston-Detroit.