COMMENT: Leasing is the future of car usership

John Wilmot explores the reasons behind the growth in popularity of leasing

The way people shop for cars is changing. Modern consumers have different priorities, and their attitudes towards owning a car are altering with the cultural shift towards usership over ownership. Leasing is a key part of the market witnessing a significant uptick in popularity. In the UK, for example, the leasing market grew by 14% in 2019. If this continues, leasing could well represent the future of car usership.

Demand for the latest models and technology

New technology and design are constantly advancing, meaning things become outdated quickly. Consumers are motivated to update to the most contemporary products on the market with the best features, at the best price. It’s the same with cars, and leasing is an attractive option for consumers wanting the most up-to-date and luxury models at a low cost. The technology in cars is constantly improving and with leasing, consumers have the chance to regularly upgrade every two or three years to a new vehicle with more advanced features such as Apple CarPlay, integrated connectivity, lane assist and automated systems.

Modern consumers have different priorities, and their attitudes towards owning a car are altering with the cultural shift towards usership over ownership

By contrast, analysis of DVLA data has found that more than 6.1 million cars on British roads in 2019 were more than 13 years old, with the average age of cars on UK roads sitting at 8.3 years overall. While the lifetime of a car will largely depend on how its driver maintains it, it’s clear that most people don’t upgrade their vehicle often once they’ve purchased it, whether due to the cost involved or other barriers such as access during the pandemic. Regardless, this means they are missing out on more modern features. Through leasing, modern and luxury models are accessible to anyone who can afford the monthly payments, and they can continue to change and upgrade models every two to three years as new features emerge.

Cost-effectiveness

Through affordable monthly payments, leasing offers a cost-effective solution for many who may not be able to afford to buy a car outright. It’s also a solution for those who don’t want to risk negative equity through a PCP deal or make a balloon payment at the end of their contract. In fact, with PCP deals, drivers often pay more than double what they would for a leasing contract. Research by LeaseLoco has found drivers can save more than £7,000 (US$9,100) on average by taking the leasing route compared to PCP. Leasing also provides the stability of planned expenditure which is a helpful solution for those who are living on a tighter budget or paycheck to paycheck.

Owning a car can incur unexpected financial burdens with the possibility of breakdowns and repairs, whereas leasing often includes an affordable maintenance package covering road tax, warranty and breakdown cover. Moreover, the risks of any upkeep or repair costs are much lower with new models that have come straight off the production line, as there is far less chance of having to replace consumable items like brakes and clutches within a short lease period. Therefore, leasing offers consumers reliable and stress-free motoring without financial worry.

Advances in safety

The safety of a vehicle is of importance to all road users but especially for families with young children, where it is the first priority. One of the major benefits of leasing is that the newer car models on offer are more likely to have the most advanced systems in place to protect the driver and passengers.

A growing number of drivers are deviating from the traditional idea of owning a car and heading instead to the leasing option

These cars often have safety technology packages which provide collision detection methods that prevent crashes faster than humanly possible by intervening through braking. For instance, most Audi models are installed with Audi pre-sense technology that applies the brakes fully as soon as a collision is detected. This safety technology can fully prevent accidents when travelling at speeds of up 25mph and greatly reduce the impact velocity at up to 53mph.

However, the longer one owns a car—whether outright or through something like a five-year PCP deal—the more outdated it becomes. Likewise, if buying second hand, the car already (often) has years of use behind it. In these scenarios, the consumer could be left with substandard safety technology compared to that provided in newer makes. For instance, the Skoda Kamiq 2020 has driver fatigue detection and seven airbags, including one for the driver’s knees. These sorts of features simply don’t exist in older makes. Regularly updated models obtained through leasing mean that the consumer never has to compromise on the safety of their vehicle.

The impact of depreciation

Ownership cannot compete with the benefits of leasing in terms of relieving the consumer of the impact of depreciation. Depreciation is a major concern for those who own a car as they have to manage their own financial risk, taking on the financial loss personally. For instance, diesel car owners could be seriously impacted by depreciation of the value of their vehicles, given political changes to the treatment of diesel emissions during the time the car is owned. With leasing, the consumer does not have to concern themselves with the car’s future value as the costs are fixed. The leasing company takes responsibility for managing the depreciation and so the user avoids any financial risk.

All in all, a growing number of drivers are deviating from the traditional idea of owning a car and heading instead to the leasing option, which in some cases can offer benefits that ownership can no longer compete with.


The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.

John Wilmot is Chief Executive Officer and Founder of LeaseLoco

The Automotive World Comment column is open to automotive industry decision makers and influencers. If you would like to contribute a Comment article, please contact editorial@automotiveworld.com

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