Leasing opens up all sorts of possibilities for flexibility. Because the lender retains ownership of the vehicle, and the consumer is really just renting it for a fixed period of time (usually 36 months or less), the lender is free to come up with all manner of schemes enticing consumers to lease.
Ford recently introduced two unrelated leasing programs. One is through Ford proper, and the other is through the Lincoln luxury division. Ford’s plan saves drivers money, while Lincoln’s plan can potentially return some money to the shopper when the lease terminates.
Currently in pilot testing in Austin, Texas, Ford’s lease-sharing program encourages families and small groups of friends to band together to lease a new Ford vehicle. Designed for groups of three to six people, Ford calls the program Ford Credit Link.
Each group shares all costs and benefits of the lease and the leased vehicle. Target groups might include licensed family members living under the same roof, neighbors with sporadic vehicle needs or carpooling co-workers. How much per month would it be worth to have access to an F-150 pickup for projects whenever you needed it?
At the core of the 24-month leasing program are a vehicle plug-in device and a smartphone app that help lease-sharers make lease payments, reserve drive times and monitor maintenance. In essence, this is the next step in car-sharing.
Lincoln’s Unused Miles
Lincoln Financial Services’ leases now provide certain customers the opportunity to trade in any unused miles at lease termination for cash amounts to put toward a new lease or to purchase another Lincoln vehicle.
Lincoln calls the program Lincoln Miles, and it applies to select leasers of MKC, MKX and MKZ models with an embedded modem. Program participants will monitor their mileage usage through daily mobile updates that will also include projections of total-mile usage at the end of the lease contract period.
Any number of life changes, like moving or changing jobs, can affect the average number of miles you drive in a year, and exceeding a lease contract’s mileage limit can cost big bucks in penalties at the end of the lease. The daily monitoring of Lincoln Miles can help consumers rein in their usage to avoid those lease-end penalties. The big news, however, is that the program also rewards leasers who return a vehicle at lease end with fewer miles than allowed in the contract.
Lincoln has attached cash values of between $100 and $1,000 to the unused miles, which the drive can use toward leasing or purchasing another Lincoln.
What It Means to You
Roughly one out of every three new cars sold today is through leasing, making this big business for carmakers and their financing arms. But all leases aren’t created equal. Ford and Lincoln are offering some innovative and unusual options, but if you’re considering leasing a car, shop around for the lease that fits you best.