Lincoln. MKZ sedan drivers now can return their cars up to six months early if they take a new model.(Photo: PR Newswire)
LOS ANGELES -- With the holiday gift-giving season barely on the
horizon, some motorists are already lining up to make exchanges -- of
their leased cars.
They're being lured by offers by some
automakers to let them out of the existing leases a few months early if
they lease a new car.
Such deals, which tend to show up toward the
end of the year, are good business for lessees and automakers alike.
Motorists get a new car sooner. And automakers cash in on customer
loyalty while getting needed nearly new used cars to restock dealer
Early-return deals often are conducted quietly by
mail to lessees. But this year, a couple of premium brands are going
high-profile with promotions that have specific goals:
MKZ sedan drivers now can return their cars up to six months early if
they take a new 2012 model. Lincoln's goal is to clear dealer lots of
unsold 2012s ahead of arrival of the all-new 2013 MKZ at the end of the
-- BMW. For the third time this year, BMW is letting
lessees of many of its 2010 models waive up to three payments if they
lease or buy a new model before Oct. 31.
BMW's goal in these
offers, says Scot Hall, executive vice president of online car-lease
exchange Swapalease.com, is to drive sales volume to pass Mercedes-Benz
"They are very close to winning the U.S. luxury crown
in vehicle sales, and they are trying to leapfrog where they are to be
over Mercedes-Benz," Hall says.
About 20% of eligible lessees have
taken the latest deal since it started in September, about twice the
rate of previous offers, says Shaun Bugbee, a BMW Financial Services
vice president. "There is a lot more awareness of the program."
has conducted quiet and selective "lease pull-forward" programs, says
spokeswoman Donna Boland, but isn't taking the bait in this case.
are on our way to our highest year on record," says Steve Cannon, CEO
of Mercedes-Benz USA. "We are not going to do anything artificial to
engineer a sales result."
Lexus Financial Services, meanwhile, says it offers early lease returns on a case-by-case basis.
practice isn't limited to luxury brands. Volkswagen conducted an early
lease-return program this year and last year. "It's a (customer)
retention program. It worked really well for us," says spokesman Scott
Vazin. "Toward the end of the year, you typically see these programs."
So is another one in the works for VW? "I wouldn't be surprised to see it," says Vazin.