Trends are best read in terms of bare figures. For example, the Federal Association of German Leasing Companies (BDL) recorded a record number of two million new car leasing contracts in 2019. 42 percent of newly registered road vehicles were leased. The year before, the share was still just under 40 percent. The BDL assumes that the leasing ratio will continue to increase.
One of the biggest advantages of leasing (installment plan) over buying is that the driver is tied to the vehicle for a relatively short period (usually between two and four years, depending on the contract) and can use a technically up-to-date vehicle. However, problems can arise when the vehicle is returned, i.e., at the end of the contract. Then, in any case, if every little beauty defect on the car is charged for.
A basic distinction must be made between residual value leasing and mileage leasing. In the case of the former, consumer advocates warn of a cost trap, because estimating the residual value (what the car is still worth after the contract period) is difficult for customers. in addition, some manufacturers initially set the residual value too high in order to be able to advertise favorable monthly installments. More common (and safer for the consumer) is mileage leasing. At the beginning of the contract, the number of kilometers that can be driven during the term of the contract is determined without incurring additional costs.
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In order to provide consumers with a better overview of leasing options, the social science institute schad (SWI) conducted a detailed study for the first time on behalf of BoRSE ONLINE. The aim of the test was to find both the best online leasing offers from the manufacturers and those from well-known comparison portals. SWI differentiates between commercial and private customers in the test. Electric cars were evaluated separately. The check includes offers from six major portals and seven manufacturers. In order to cover a broad range, four categories were selected: small cars/compact class, mid-size cars, upper mid-size cars/upper mid-size cars and electric vehicles. The results tables can be found on the right, the test criteria ("this is how it was tested") further down.
The pleasant surprise for consumers up front: the vast majority of portals and manufacturers received good grades. However, the size of the selection and the prices vary considerably in some cases. So it pays to compare!
Mixed picture for manufacturers
Naturally, the choice of models is smaller for manufacturers than for portals. Nevertheless, the testers were surprised that both ford and seat were unable to find a suitable online offer for the specified vehicle and leasing combinations. The larger manufacturers audi, volkswagen and mercedes did better. To save time, SWI expert johannes higle advises: "customers should know which model they prefer – then they can quickly search for a suitable offer on the relevant pages." When leasing an electric car, customers should pay attention to the conditions for the special premium (6000 euros). Although this is included in the price as a down payment, the costs must be interpreted and reclaimed via an application to the BAFA (federal office of economics and export control).
The best results in the test were achieved by the leasingmarkt platform.De: the provider was unbeatable in all three test categories and received the overall grade of "very good". leasing market.De scored particularly well with a wide range of products and very favorable monthly rates, both for private and commercial customers.
Striking: the supposed industry leader sixt weakened. The online provider has the largest selection of leased cars (both in terms of brands and vehicle models), a very good online service and extensive additional options, such as vehicle maintenance or fully comprehensive insurance. On the other hand, the monthly leasing rates are among the highest in the entire comparison. In the e-car category, therefore, it was enough, as it was for zero-leasing.Com, only for the grade "sufficient.
It’s the detail that counts
In view of the differences discovered, leasing expert higle advises: "a precise price comparison of the respective model is decisive: even if some cars show a lower leasing rate in the search list, it is often worth taking a closer look at the equipment details. It can happen that slight changes to the configuration cause the total price to shoot up. In principle, close attention should therefore be paid to the conditions and hidden additional costs (provision, registration, service packages)." the old saying also applies to leasing offers: the devil is in the details. In this case, in the contract details.
This is how it was tested
The "online kfz leasing" analysis, the social science institute (SWI) in hamburg carried out for BoRSE ONLINE is based on three test categories. The price of the respective vehicle (monthly leasing rate and provision costs) was included in the overall assessment at 70 percent. The remaining 30 percent was divided equally between the breadth of the offer (number of vehicles of different brands or electric and hybrid vehicles) and the rating of online services (scope of information and functions offered). In each area, specifications were defined for the search for a vehicle (type, fuel, drive, price) as well as a combination of leasing period and mileage in mileage leasing, and the appropriate car was selected in each case. Residual value leasing was not taken into account. The price was surveyed separately for private and commercial leasing. In addition, only new cars were taken into account for the evaluation.
Due to the different orientation of online portals and manufacturers, these were evaluated separately. Prices, offers and online services were surveyed from october to december 2020. Special offers were not included in the evaluation.