With late-model used vehicles at record prices, some dealers are putting new spins on programs designed to get customers out of their car loans or leases early. The payoff: snaring the customer's former vehicle for the used-car lot, often as a certified used vehicle.
The incentives vary: new vehicles at lower monthly payments, cold, hard cash or a way out of a burdensome payment.
Brian Benstock, general manager of Paragon Honda and Paragon Acura in New York City is one of the dealers turning to lease customers for used cars. He became concerned about his future certified used-vehicle inventory in 2008, when new-car sales and leasing plunged. So he started coaxing new-car customers into leases of 36 months or less.
He figured that 24 months into those contracts, many customers would have enough equity in their vehicles to get out of leases early and into another new Honda or Acura at monthly lease payments comparable to or less than their current payments.
Benstock's efforts started bearing fruit last year. Of the 3,000 certified Hondas and 1,000 certified Acuras he sold in 2010, 60 percent were off-lease vehicles generated from his customers, up from 35 percent prior to last year.