Best July lease deal comes in at $129 per month


With activity ramping up for trucks and SUVs, Wantalease.com noticed a different compact sedan supplanted the Ford Focus as having the lowest monthly lease price of any new vehicle.

According to July metrics shared by the site this week, now available for a monthly lease commitment of just $129 is the Nissan Sentra. That’s $21 less than the Focus as the Blue Oval pushed up the monthly payment for the compact up by 2.24 percent to $150.

While most vehicle prices have remained steady into July, Wantalease.com noticed that dealers have offered discounts on a variety of new trucks and SUVs to continue spurring interest in summertime lease deals. 

The two largest discounts were for the Chevrolet Equinox with a $73.38 decrease in price, and the GMC Canyon Crew Cab with a $58.33 decrease in price. 

The Equinox is offered at just $179 per month, while the Canyon Crew Cab is priced at $249, according to site officials.

“We’re seeing an increase in discounts and aggressive summer pricing beginning to permeate across trucks and SUV’s for lease deals,” said Scot Hall, executive vice president of Wantalease.com. 

“Consumers are increasingly searching for aggressive deals on everything from small trucks to large, as well as mid-size and luxury SUVs,” Hall continued.

The vehicles with the largest jumps monthly payment included the Ford Fusion with a 10.77 percent increase and the Honda Pilot with a 6.02-percent increase in price from June.

The Fusion is currently offered at $223 per month, while the Pilot is offered for $389, according to Wantalease.com.

Lease-transfer approvals remain steady in June


Approvals for vehicle-lease transfers continue to remain on a steady track.

On Wednesday, Swapalease.com reported that vehicle lease credit applicants registered a 68.4-percent approval rate in June, up slightly from the 67.9-percent mark registered in May.

Even though lease origination activity at dealerships has been down slightly in 2018, site officials have noticed lease takeover activity has remained healthy, with many shoppers taking advantage of shorter, customizable terms offered on the secondary market.

Swapalease.com pointed out that benefits of lease takeover can be extremely budget friendly, with interested shoppers avoiding the down payment typically required at the dealership — this has already been covered by the initial lessee — and the ability to make a shorter commitment on the lease contract.

With the economy still relatively strong, Swapalease.com has experienced more stability in its lease approval rates since the beginning of the year. Since February, the lease credit approval rate hasn’t dipped below 65 percent, illustrating a normal and healthy approval range.

“We’re seeing a few more applicants with quality credit to take over leases in the marketplace, most likely as a result of higher lease costs at the dealership,” said Scot Hall, executive vice president of Swapalease.com.

“An additional benefit of taking over an existing lease is that the buyer is insulated from economic changes affecting dealership prices, such as higher interest rates or lower incentives offered at present day,” Hall added.

Lease prices remain stable as summer intensifies


Wantalease.com is noticing the leasing promotions leveraged by automakers and dealerships during the spring are being kept in place as the industry moves into summer.

Site officials reported that prices on most of today’s popular leases holding steady compared to May. Wantalease.com noted 36 different vehicles maintained their prices.

Only one vehicle is currently offered for less than $150 per month on Wantalease.com. The Ford Focus is priced at $149 per month, making it the most affordable vehicle lease for the month of June.

The site pointed out a lease for the Ford Focus dropped compared to May as it was previously listed at $179.

While most vehicle prices held steady entering June, Wantalease.com insisted dealers continue to offer aggressive prices on entry-level vehicles, in particular.

Two entry-level cars — the Chevrolet Cruze and the Volkswagen Jetta — are currently offered at less than $200 monthly. In fact, the Chevrolet Cruze is currently offered at $179 per month.

“We’re seeing prices stabilize on many leases entering summer, an indication that dealers were aggressive during spring and they’re looking to maintain these offers as we enter the summer months,” said Scot Hall, executive vice president of Wantalease.com.

“Consumers will continue to increasingly search for aggressive deals from small cars to large, luxury trucks and SUVs,” Hall continued.

The vehicle that saw the largest price increase entering the month of June is the Cadillac CTS 2.0 Rear Wheel Drive. This vehicle, which is currently offered at $489 per month, increased in price by 24.65 percent in comparison to previous month.

The Honda CR-V LX also saw an increase in price by 19.66 percent, bringing the monthly payments to $259, followed by the Infiniti QX80, with an increase of 11.93 percent and monthly payments of $769.

LeasePlan agrees to provide FCA customers fleet solutions in select European markets


In several European markets where FCA does not operate its own captive arm, LeasePlan will now offer operational lease solutions to FCA customers.

The vehicle leasing and fleet management provider announced Monday that it has agreed to be a new FCA operational lease partner that will concentrate on the growing small and medium enterprise (SME) segment of car buyers.

FCA SME customers in Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland can now take advantage of full operational lease products that are available on a preferred partner basis from LeasePlan.

LeasePlan said it defines SME customers as those with up to 25 vehicles in their fleet.

“SME is LeasePlan's fastest-growing segment and a crucial element in our strategy to lead the European Car-as-a-Service market,” LeasePlan senior vice president commercial Berno Kleinherenbrink said in a news release. “I'm therefore delighted to announce our new partnership with FCA, which gives us an additional route to serve the important SME segment.

“These customers want flexible, hassle-free and fast solutions — and that's exactly what we provide,” Kleinherenbrink continued.

At year-end last year, SME vehicles made up about 17 percent of LeasePlan's serviced fleet, according to the company.

In contrast to traditional white label agreements, LeasePlan explained that its new partnership with FCA is based on a referral model where the automaker will provide vehicles with an operational lease managed fully by LeasePlan.

The partnership aims to deliver customers flexible, cost-effective solutions in a short amount of time, according to LeasePlan.

“This is the first partnership of its kind for LeasePlan with a major European OEM,” the company said.

With pre-configured FCA vehicles available, LeasePlan said customers can receive the vehicles they select within two weeks.

Additionally, LeasePlan said that it will extend both training and certification to FCA dealers on its SME products and service portfolio.

New-car lease penetration remains in 30% ballpark

CARY, N.C.  - 

In an interview for the Auto Remarketing Podcast in late March, Experian’s Melinda Zabritski said one auto financing metric she would be watching carefully in 2018 was the lease penetration rate.

“There are several things that I think are going to be very interesting for the coming year, one of which is a lot of questions around will leasing still remain at this 30-percent rate,” said Zabritski, the senior director of financial solutions at Experian.

So far, so good.

According to Experian’s State of the Automotive Finance Market released Thursday, 29.83 percent of new-car sales in Q1 were leases.

That’s down compared to 31.06 percent a year ago, but up from 28.28 percent in the fourth quarter.

In addition to remaining at elevated levels, leasing also continues to lean toward the higher credit tiers. 

Experian said that in the first quarter, 48.57 percent of new leases went to prime consumers, up from 48.18 percent a year ago and 48.37 percent in the fourth quarter.

Similarly, the share of new-car leases going to super prime consumers climbed from 29.21 percent to 29.46 percent in the past year. In Q4, 29.09 percent of new-car leases were super prime.

Or, put it this way: a full 78 percent of leases during the first quarter of 2018 went to either of those top credit tiers.

The average credit score on a new-car lease during Q1 was 724, up from 722 in the fourth quarter and in Q1 of 2017.

Meanwhile, the average credit score on a new-car loan in the first quarter of this year was 716.

The average monthly payment on a new-car lease was $436 in Q1, compared to $430 in Q4. Average new-car loan payments reached another an all-time high at $523.

More analysis from Experian can be found in th below podcast with Auto Fin Journal senior editor Nick Zulovich, who interviewed Zabritski in Las Vegas during the AFSA Vehicle Finance Conference in late March. 


Moody's Analytics: The non-impact of off-lease volume on supply and price


An assessment of supply is critical to understanding future residual price trends, though difficult to calculate. Our aim here is to help readers better understand the drivers of used-vehicle supply in the U.S.

In 2015, about 17.5 million new cars and trucks were sold in the U.S. Let’s assume that all of these vehicles were 2015 model year and that such vehicles are not sold in adjacent years. In the future, this cohort of 2015 vehicles will be traded in and repoed, bought from used car dealers, exchanged privately, totaled by insurance companies, driven into the ground, repaired, stripped for parts and ultimately scrapped. Some 2015 model year vehicles will be exported to other countries, while a much smaller number of foreign vehicles will be imported. 

What we know for a fact is that 2015 vehicles will never again be produced. The stock of such autos can and will decline in future, but it can never increase.

There are actually only three ways to increase the supply of 3-year-old cars in the U.S. First: produce an extra new car today and then wait for three years. Second: import an appropriately aged used vehicle from overseas. Third: rescue a vehicle that, for whatever reason, had been removed from the current cohort of 3-year-old vehicles.

The first of these is the main driver of used vehicle supply. We find, quite reliably after controlling for demand-side ructions, that declines in used car prices lag increases in new vehicle sales by between 18 months and two years. 

In terms of used vehicle exports, data are somewhat spotty, but reveal that in 2013 about 800,000 used vehicles were transferred abroad. Used cars and trucks typically flow from richer countries to poorer countries so apart from the odd vintage car enthusiast bringing home a beloved 1964 Porsche 911, we can surmise that vehicle exports exceed imports by a healthy margin. One can imagine that exports are impacted by domestic prices, rising when U.S. prices are suppressed and falling when local prices are relatively high. 

The third supply driver — the rate at which older vehicles are retired — is perhaps the most interesting of the three. We know from the Cuban experience that when new vehicle production or imports are severely curtailed, the value attached to older vehicles rises apparently without limit. In the U.S., the supply dynamics are less stark but people still make supply decisions when determining, for example, whether to repair the blown head gasket on their 1998 F-150 or buy a different car. Cars are often retired when they still have many years of safe motoring ahead of them. People may even retire perfectly good cars just because they like the features offered on newer models. If the propensity to retire vehicles ever rises, this represents a supply contraction that will potentially impact used vehicle prices.

Just as important is a consideration of the things that do not increase the supply of used cars. If, for example, my neighbor offers to buy my three-year-old hatchback and I agree to sell it, there is no change in either the demand or supply position of the market. Yesterday I was consuming the vehicle and my neighbor was catching the bus to work; today our roles are reversed.  

The next question we must address is whether these dynamics change if a dealer acts as a middleman to the transaction between myself and my neighbor. While the dealership is providing an indispensable retail service by matching my needs with those of my neighbor, the only way a used car dealer can impact supply is by opting to send a vehicle in their possession off to the salvage yard.

There is no doubt that dealer inventories can rise if there are too many sellers and not enough buyers. This issue is currently a major concern because of the flood of off-lease vehicles that have been present in the industry over the past few years. The critical thing to keep in mind is that the total number of 2015 vehicles in circulation in the U.S. is unaffected by the nature of their original financing arrangements. For off-lease volume to be a genuine problem we would need the demand for clocking miles in three-year-old cars to decline relative to the normal level. There is no evidence that this phenomenon has recently occurred.

So what explains the declines we have witnessed in used car prices over the past few years? For one thing, prices entered this period at an aggregate level that was well above trend. This occurred because new vehicle sales fell by half during the Great Recession — causing supply to contract — and only slowly recovered in the years immediately afterward. The paucity of 2008 model year vehicles is a market feature that is still in evidence today. 

New vehicle production and sales then increased at a steady clip in recent years, causing prices to fall back toward trend levels. Americans have also shown an increased propensity to keep older cars in operation for longer and this has also helped to boost available supply.

Trading used cars among ourselves is great for generating retail service fees for dealers but it has no bearing on vehicle supply. When analyzing possible implications for residual prices, market participants would be wise to ask whether a particular event adds to or subtracts from the size of the vehicle fleet. 

It is only these events that can influence vehicle supply, and therefore vehicle prices. 

Tony Hughes is a managing director at Moody’s Analytics, where he leads the development of used-car price forecasts.

As lease originations soften, transfer interest swells


As Equifax is noticing a slowdown in the volume of vehicle leasing happening at dealerships, Swapalease.com is seeing an uptick in consumer interest for taking over a lease contract.

Those findings came as Equifax shared its lease origination data through January, and Swapalease.com released its quarterly lease trends report for the first quarter.

First, let’s look at new models rolling over the curb while connected to a lease.

Equifax reported 256,510 auto leases, totaling $4.2 billion, were originated in January. Those figures represented a 17.1-percent decrease in accounts, and a 17.4-percent drop-off in balances, year-over year.

Of all of the new-vehicle financing recorded in January, Equifax indicated auto leases accounted for 12.7 percent of all contracts originated and 9.5 percent of balances.

Not surprisingly, only a portion of the latest lease originations went to consumers with soft credit histories.

Equifax tabulated that 24,920 leases were originated to consumers with a VantageScore 3.0 credit score below 620. These contracts are generally considered subprime accounts. That volume represented a 13.5-percent decrease year-over-year.

Those newly issued subprime leases have a corresponding total balance of $429 million, a 13.2-percent decrease year-over-year, according to Equifax.

Equifax also mentioned the average origination balance for all vehicles leases issued in January came in $16,527, marking a slight uptick of 0.65 percent year-over-year.

Looking again solely at subprime lease contacts, the average amount in the deal came in at $17,199, according to Equifax, which computed the figure to be a 0.20-percent increase from a year ago.

“Note that lease origination values reflect the contract amounts only and exclude expected vehicle residual values,” Equifax added.

Whether or not all of those lease holders drive their vehicles for the duration of the contract can be difficult to project. But Swapalease.com thinks the chances are increasing that the lease will change hands before the term fully matures.

The newest Swapalease.com report showed an increase in search activity across the board for nearly all brands in the site’s marketplace, indicating that a rising number of people are turning to the secondary market to find lease deals since many dealers are pulling back on incentives on new leases.

According to the report, Americans are paying an average of $495.83 per month on their leases during Q1, up slightly from $485.47 during the fourth quarter.

The brands with the largest volume of vehicles on the Swapalease.com marketplace continue to be BMW and Mercedes-Benz, with a share of market of 12 percent and 8 percent, respectively. BMW’s search traffic was slightly lower during the first quarter at 16 percent, compared with Mercedes-Benz at 24 percent.

Analysts noticed that Chrysler (27 percent) and Chevrolet (23 percent) saw the highest search traffic totals among all popular domestic brands. For Asian brands, Lexus (22 percent) generated the highest search traffic, followed by Honda and Infiniti each at 20 percent search traffic totals.

“With dealers pulling back slightly on incentives for new leases, we’re seeing a noticeable jump in the number of people looking for deals on the secondary market,” said Scot Hall, executive vice president of Swapalease.com.

“We’re also seeing more people wait longer before exiting their lease, which indicates fewer people are looking to exchange their lease at the earliest possible opportunity of their contract,” Hall continued.

According to data in the report, the majority of lessees are listing their vehicles for transfer with 25.1 months remaining on their contract in the first quarter, compared with 26.3 months remaining in the fourth quarter.

Incentives activity has dropped as well, with the average Swapalease.com user offering $612.54 as an incentive to transfer in the first quarter, compared with $695.16 in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Full-size truck lease payments now mirror compact cars


Wantalease.com spotted a monthly lease offer for a full-size pickup on par with compact cars and likely less than half of what a monthly payment attached to a retail installment sales contract might be.

Going for just $169 per month, Wantalease.com noticed that consumers on its site can secure a Ram 1500 Crew Cab. That’s the same amount as what it would cost to lease a Chevrolet Cruze, and just $60 more than the Nissan Sentra, which is currently priced the lowest of all vehicles for the third consecutive month with payments as low as $109 per month. 

Site officials also found after reviewing April lease activity that Ford offered the most generous discounts on their compact and midsize cars, while most luxury vehicles and midsize SUV brands maintained their lease prices.

While most vehicle prices have remained steady into the month of May, Wantalease.com pointed out that many dealers have offered lower lease pricing on compact cars and midsize cars. 

The vehicle that saw the largest price drop coming into the month of May was that Ram 1500 Crew Cab with a 28.70-percent decrease. Other notable drops include the Ford Fusion at $199 (down 21.44 percent), the Ford Focus at $179 per month (down 11.90 percent), and the Infiniti QX80 at $669 per month (down 10.66 percent).

“It’s apparent that dealers are finding great value and opportunities in promoting lease opportunities with cars, as many of these vehicles have performance and features that rivals today’s smaller and midsize utility vehicles,” said Scot Hall, executive vice president of Wantalease.com.

“We may also want to watch how the price of gas plays a role in smaller car demand, as the price of fuel has risen a little over the last few months,” Hall added.

Meanwhile, lease payments charged higher for some Asian brand models.

Wantalease determined the vehicles with the largest increased monthly payment include the Honda Accord with a 29.37-percent increase and the Lexus RX 350 with a 10.08-percent increase in price from March. The Honda Accord is currently offered at $249 per month, while the Lexus RX 350 is offered for $429.

March lease-transfer approval improvement fuels overall Q1 boost


While at least in some places of the country the weather is improving, over at Swapalease.com, site officials are noticing an enhancement to lease-transfer approvals, too.

According to an update shared on Tuesday, Swapalease.com reported vehicle lease credit applicants registered a 67.3 percent approval rate in March, a rise from the February rate of 65.2 percent.

The site indicated March experienced a higher number of applicants with qualifications that led to more approvals for taking over another person’s lease contract during the month. Swapalease.com also pointed out March has statistically been a strong month for lease approval ratings, as 75 percent of lease applicants were also approved during the month of March last year.

This March showed a slightly lower number of lease applicants, yet a higher approval rating than the applicants for the month of February, according to the site’s analysis.

Since January, Swapalease.com highlighted the lease approval rate for the previous three months overall has registered in at 63.9 percent.  Lease approvals have been slowly increasing since January, after the month experienced an unusual decline in approvals, pushing the rate down to 57.8 percent.

 The approval rate was up again in February, and even higher into the month of March.

“The last three months have shown a little less volatility in the lease approvals rate, perhaps a sign of a higher concentration of lease shoppers with slightly stronger credit for taking over a lease,” said Scot Hall, executive vice president at Swapalease.com.

“It’s possible we’re beginning to see a little more overflow from dealerships where people with good credit are finding attractive offers on the Swapalease online marketplace as an alternate channel for lease shopping,” Hall went on to say.

Recent incentives making SUV and truck leases more attractive


While compact cars continue to have the most affordable monthly lease payment, Wantalease.com is noticing that actions by automakers to keep trucks and SUVs attractive are spilling over into trends on its site.

Wantalease.com reported that the Nissan Sentra is currently priced the lowest of all vehicles, coming in at just $109 per month for the second consecutive month.  The Nissan Sentra is priced lower than the Honda Civic, which was the vehicle previously holding the lowest price for six months in a row at $149.

This past month, site officials noticed the Honda Civic increased in price by another 13.15 percent, bringing the monthly payment to $189.

While most vehicle prices have remained steady into April, Wantalease.com pointed out that OEMs and dealers have offered more aggressive lease pricing on mid-size and large SUVs, as well as small pickup and large pickup trucks. 

The vehicle that saw the largest price drop moving into the month of April was the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 4WD Double Cab with a 11.99 -percent decrease.  The vehicle is offered at $299 per month, followed by the Ford Expedition at $469 (down 10.57 percent), the GMC Canyon Crew Cab for $249 per month (down 9.10 percent), and the Ford Explorer at $349 per month (down 8.59 percent).

“We’re seeing an increase in aggressive pricing beginning to permeate across cars and trucks for lease deals,” said Scot Hall, executive vice president of Wantalease.com.

“With a slight pullback in new-vehicle sales, consumers will be increasingly on the hunt for aggressive deals on everything from small cars to large, luxury trucks and SUVs,” Hall added.

Wantalease.com went on to mention the vehicles with the largest increased monthly payment are the Chevrolet Cruze with a 12.47 percent increase, and the Chevrolet Malibu with a 10.18 percent increase in price from February. 

The Cruze is currently offered at $169 per month, while the Malibu is offered for $199.