NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Association of Consumer Vehicle Lessors' member leasing companies reported a reduction in new leases from 2 million in 2002 to 1.6 million in 2003. This 19.8 percent volume decline shows the continued effect of high cash rebates and interest rate subsidies combined with longer loan terms. These manufacturer programs have made possible low monthly loan payments, inducing consumers to finance rather than lease their new vehicles. Since leasing's peak in 1999, leases has fallen more than 50 percent from 3.4 million new leases to 1.6 million new leases in 2003. The 2003 decline hit ACVL captives a little harder than banks: captive total leases were down 20.5 percent while bank leases were down 16.3 percent. The decline was much more dramatic for large lessors than smaller ones: large lessor lease volume dropped 21.5 percent compared to 6 percent for medium lessors. For both the bank and captive lessors, the volume of the larger members declined more than smaller ones. "There were a number of factors contributing to lower lease volumes," said Rob Mize, ACVL president, "including the expansion of the zero-percent retail installment programs and other similar manufacturer installment sale promotions, continued declines in residual values and fewer manufacturer subvented lease programs. However, those trends appear to be abating in 2004 so lease volume may climb this year."
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