Continuing the trend that began in 1998, the average length of new vehicle leases increased to more than 39 months in the year 2000, according to a new study from the Association of Consumer Vehicle Lessors (ACVL), the leading leasing industry association. In 1997, the average lease length was just over 32 months, according to the ACVL. The association's members write four out of five consumer vehicle leases in the United States each year. "The day of the 24-month lease is virtually gone, and 48-month leases are the most popular term for most leasing companies," said Randall Brown, president of ACVL. Security deposits are also required less frequently than a few years ago, the ACVL survey showed. In 2000, security deposits were required on just over half of new leases written by ACVL members. ACVL has conducted the annual survey of its members since 1993. The year 2000 also saw some easing of the losses that leasing companies are experiencing on returned end-of-lease vehicles. Those losses are due to decreased prices for used vehicles. With the so-called "residual value" of new leases lower than in past years (since used-car prices are down), the monthly payments on new leases increased in 2000. Still, consumers whose leases ended in 2000 came out far better than those who had purchased their vehicles since the residual value used in the leases that ended in 2000 was more than $2,000 greater than the actual trade-in values of the vehicles. Thus, consumers who leased saved an average of more than $2,000 compared with those who bought their vehicles, the study revealed. "Now more than ever, it's important that consumers be informed about the benefits and responsibilities of leasing before they decide whether to lease or buy," Brown said. "A major part of our mission at ACVL is to provide consumers with the information they need to make informed decisions. Our Web site -- -- is a good place to start for those who want to consider leasing among their options."