Ahhhh ….The three year lease.
It entrances and traps the most spellbound car aficionados into a monthly payment that keeps them at the altar of the car payment.
Is that a bad thing? Well, depends on the way you want to look at it. What can’t be argued is that both sides get what they want, and after three years, that customer can choose to stay with the manufacturer or go somewhere else. To me at least, that seems like a fair bargain.
But what if the automaker could offer a better deal? For both parties?
Per mile cost of ownership models are still in their infancy. Yes, there are tacky penalties that are added to most lease agreements in the U.S. and elsewhere. Other countries have also developed unique pricing models, such as in Israel. Where car buyers (in the absolute loosest meaning of that phrase, since most cars are leased) get to own a car for a specific period of time, and then skip the last ‘ballon payment’ and give it back to the dealer who initially sold it.
What I’m thinking is a bit simpler than that.
You have a sliding scale. New cars would start off on the same type of leases that exist now, except they would be marketed on a per mile basis.
Lease a Corolla for only 25 cents a mile! Blow your financial brains out on a BMW for only 59 cents a mile! There would be minimal mileage requirement, say you have to pay for at least 10,000 miles a year, and all the other usual small print that comes with a typical lease.
Except it wouldn’t be a lease. You would be renting it and have an automatic draw done on your credit/debit card on a weekly basis. No hassle. No haggle. Just a flat rate for as long as you want to
own drive the car.
Sounds a lot like the past standard rate plans we have with cell phones? Well, sure, but a driver can do a lot more damage to a car than a cell phone. The manufacturers want to protect their own assets, and auto insurance companies don’t make allowances for the lead foots and pigpens of the modern marketplace.
So with that in mind I want to immediately inform you that there will be a few (cough! cough!) restrictions and opportunities that would come with the contract.
Let’s start with the good news. Low cost and no obligation. Insurance, maintenance, taxes… everything except the source of propulsion would be paid for with your per mile rental price. If either you or the automaker are unsatisfied at any time, simply make the necessary arrangements and move onward with your lives. No debt. No worries.
If you don’t like the way the car drives, looks, steers, looks or smells, you can throw that smelly fish back in the sea of automotive inventory. Of course that luxury would come at a premium on your per mile price. But the actuarial scientists will figure out a way to make it all work for you.
They may also ask for a few healthy modifications to your driving style.
For starters, the speed limit IS your limit. There will be a little warning light that will post on the dashboard for excessive speeds.
During such times your car may be ‘throttled’ to limit the excessive acceleration. Sounds Draconian? Cell phone providers have been doing it to you for quite a while now.
You could press the emergency button to override this feature, which would immediately notify the nearest law enforcement officers that you need to proceed to the nearest medical center. As a public service you will be escorted. and of course, a false alarm associated with abuse of the manufacturers property will result in immediate loss of use of said property, speeding fines, public endangerment fines, a bill for unwarranted use of public services, remedial driving classes, community service, and an uncomfortable visit with the dour men who wear black robes.
Then again, what’s there to worry about? You, Mr. Customer, aren’t a lawbreaker. So obviously you won’t have to worry about any of this. As a courtesy, let me inform you of a few other things you won’t have to worry about.