Land of the lease

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - BUSINESS -

More Amer­i­cans are leas­ing their cars than ever be­fore.

Thirty-one per­cent of new ve­hi­cles ac­quired in the first nine months of this year were leased, ac­cord­ing to car shop­ping site Ed­munds.com. That’s a record high, and it’s nearly dou­ble the per­cent­age from a decade ago.

Leas­ing is at­trac­tive for sev­eral rea­sons. Monthly lease pay­ments are usu­ally lower than fi­nance pay­ments, and buy­ers ac­cus­tomed to new tech­nol­ogy can count on get­ting a new ve­hi­cle ev­ery few years. Mil­len­ni­als ac­count for the most leases over­all, but the fastest-grow­ing group of lessees is con­sumers 75 and older. Leas­ing used to be con­fined to lux­ury cars, but no longer. For in­stance, lease rates for small pick­ups have more than tripled this year, Ed­munds says. There is a down­side for the auto in­dus­try. A glut of leased ve­hi­cles re­turn­ing to the mar­ket as used cars can hurt sales of new cars. That pres­sures au­tomak­ers to lower prices. In re­sponse, au­tomak­ers have been low­er­ing the al­lot­ted miles leased ve­hi­cles are al­lowed to travel. That helps en­sure ve­hi­cles re­turn in bet­ter shape and can be resold at a higher price.

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