Monday, April 22, 2024
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“Cars are becoming the goods of today and tomorrow”

We have all been there before – before deciding which car to drive, we are desperately trying to be honest and realistic about our available budgets and driving-related needs. Let’s admit it, failure to choose the right one can be as disastrous as choosing the wrong job, house, husband or wife.

And even if a customer makes an informed decision about leasing the right car, will it be the right one for the duration of the contract they have signed? Might not.

Career, housing, personal finance, family, medical, and other changes can and will happen. Sometimes they leave motorists locked in non-negotiable, monthly (or otherwise) leases that burden them with inappropriate vehicles that they are contractually bound to stay with for years to come. Not good.

Even if the car you choose remains the right one, wouldn’t you like to drive something else? Of course you would. At least one major manufacturer is seriously aware of this and is considering a breakthrough leasing and rental model.

That’s probably how it will work. For example, the customer with a leased Golf will likely be satisfied with it for 40 weeks a year. But he or she could temporarily return it to the VW dealer in exchange for a Touareg SUV for the winter ski vacation. In the spring, a chic Arteon is snapped up for a wedding, followed by a load-bearing Amarok for the summer camping trip and perhaps a T-Roc Cabriolet for the autumn vacation.

Such strictly short-term upgrades will of course lead to higher leasing rates in a few months. But even a customer will occasionally be able to pay less – by downgrading the Golf, which remains the heart of the contract. Why should a customer choose to go lower market for an up-of-the-range offer? urban speedster? Possibly because he or she has to temporarily spend time in another work place, home, or hospital in a busy downtown area where the benefits of smaller, slower cars are evident.

So far, so good. What I outlined above could be part of the fun, flexible, and (literally) funky future of leasing. Increasingly, we will no longer have cars as our beloved personal property and treat many or most of them like today, today, tomorrow – a bit like hotel rooms and restaurant tables.

But a serious word of warning – if you, say, lease the Golf in the (optional) brave new auto world of the near future, then temporarily upgrade to a larger vehicle or downgrade to a smaller one, “your” Golf will not only have won and will not only collect dust at the franchise dealer. Under the terms of your contract, it can – and likely will – be used by other customers to upgrade or downgrade for a week, month, or whatever. Depending on the small print (check, then check again), it could even be sold by the dealer, who would then be obliged to replace it with something as good or better.

We are still in the tricky planning phase of fully flexible flipping leasing, which could give future customers unprecedented freedom. I love the bold, potentially groundbreaking idea, but I’m not saying that I’m brave enough to register for it. And you?

Would you like more flexible car leasing models from the manufacturers? Let us know in the comments below …

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