9 August 2004

British buyers are not ready to start running cars through the US-style leasing schemes about to be launched here, according to industry experts. Dealer groups such as Vardys are currently preparing schemes where customers can pay a monthly fee and rent a car for a pre-set period, modelled on American schemes where around 60 per cent of cars on the road are leased. Robin Mackonochie of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association suggested that British car buyers were not ready for leasing. ‘UK consumers want to own cars, rather than just have the use of a car,’ he said. He also doubted the low costs bandied about for US-style lease schemes could come about: ‘Even with leasing, customers are never going to escape costs of car ownership,’ he said. Vardys finance director Robert Forrester admitted that its scheme, due to be launched at the end of the year, wouldn’t account for a huge chunk of the 200,000 cars that the company sells each year. But he estimated that ‘there would be supply-led demand’ with business slowly building as car buyers become more aware of the schemes. Forrester predicted that Vardys’ scheme was likely to start out as an online service, with customers taking delivery of their cars at home.

Although costs have yet to be set, prices could start out as low as £99 per month for a Vauxhall Corsa (above); anyone after a BMW 3-series (right) could see monthly rental costs start from £250. However, leasing costs will ‘depend on whether the bulk purchasing power of dealers can be used to bring prices down,’ said Forrester.

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