Auto lease datapoint of the day

By Felix Salmon
September 21, 2009
WSJ:

Last month, Bill Wamsley, a commercial real estate broker in Mill Valley, Calif., hoped to replace his wife's Lexus sedan with a 2009 Cadillac CTS.

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From the WSJ:

Last month, Bill Wamsley, a commercial real estate broker in Mill Valley, Calif., hoped to replace his wife’s Lexus sedan with a 2009 Cadillac CTS.

From information Mr. Wamsley collected online he determined a CTS lease would run around $580 a month when all costs were factored in. After some shopping, he found he could lease a Mercedes C300, with roughly the same retail price, for about $450 a month.

General Motors spent so many years as a leasing company with an automaker attached that it must feel weird to see the tables turned like this.

$580 a month is $6,960 a year, or 19% of the $36,560 base price for the Mercedes. $450 a month, by contrast, is $5,400 a year, or 15.5% of the $34,650 base price for the C300 Luxury. The difference, of over $1,500 a year, is significant enough that GM is now faced with an invidious dilemma: either risk blowing up their loan book, or else reduce their prices so much that they’ll never make any money making cars.

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