Protecting the bottom line

Proposed leasing changes could have major impact

About 15 years ago, I was talking to an automotive executive about the wave of personal vehicle leases that were starting to sweep the country. I was about ready to put my beloved Firebird out to pasture and was trying to figure out what to do next. This person raved about the opportunities the then-new leases offered people to drive more prestigious vehicles than they otherwise could afford.

Then I heard the details. “So let me get this straight,” I said. “I give you a down payment of $2,000 or $3,000, make payments of about $300 a month, and then in five years you take the vehicle back, and I’m out of the money and the car?”

“Oh, no!” he said. “At that point, you have the option of buying the car!”