Third-party estimates of future automobile resale values are an important tool for manufacturers, captive finance companies, banks and leasing companies. Those residual value projections forecast the value of an asset two, three or four years in the future, providing a basis for calculating monthly lease payments and our own financial reserves.
As public companies responsible to shareholders and subject to audits and government oversight, automobile manufacturers and other companies engaged in leasing should not be estimating residual values on their own. That's why independent companies such as Automotive Lease Guide provide those estimates.
Like most tools, though, residual value estimates lose their usefulness when applied to a task other than the one they were designed to perform.
Estimated residual values are a fairly good way to estimate what the resale value of a vehicle may be after a period of time so a company that leases automobiles can rationally set monthly payments that meet market conditions and generate profit. But they can't express the value that consumers get from their vehicle purchases.