CarsDirect had the report first. They claim to have sent a leaked letter from Ford to dealerships explaining the new arrangement. We’ve asked Ford to confirm the authenticity of the letter and will update this story when we hear from them. But the move would be in line with decisions other automakers have made in recent months.
Starting tomorrow, the letter says, leases in 37 states will include a clause preventing lessees from buying their cars at the end of the lease term. The change will roll out to other states, the letter says, before the fourth quarter of 2022.
It affects Ford Mustang Mach-E, F-150 Lightning and E-Transit electric vans.
Buying your non-lease car is working well this year
Typically, the language of a car rental agreement establishes a purchase price for the vehicle. Lessees have the option, at the end of their lease, to either return the car to the dealership and walk away or purchase it for a fixed amount set at the signing of the lease.
Typically, many lessees choose to return the vehicle and move to another lease on a newer car.
The dealers set the off-lease purchase price when signing the lease. This requires trying to predict a fair market price for a vehicle several years into the future.
Several years ago, no one could predict a global pandemic, a worldwide shortage of microchips and skyrocketing car prices.
So many lessees whose leases end in 2022 are entitled to buy their car at a price that seemed fair years ago, but is less than the market value of their car today. They can keep the car and have a more affordable vehicle than they could otherwise hope to find, or buy it at the contract price and immediately resell it for a higher price.
Ford’s move would mean that if prices continue to rise, dealers, not lessees, would be in this great position. It would also provide dealers with a steady supply of used electric vehicles to sell when used cars are scarce.
Ford wouldn’t be alone
Ford’s letter claims that is not the company’s motivation. Instead, he says: “The purchase of the BEV Lease is to contribute to our goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 by monitoring the vehicle’s battery throughout its life, keeping it in the Ford network.”
But Ford wouldn’t be the first automaker to take action to restrict non-lease sales. Just last year, Honda limited the ability of lessees to sell to anyone other than a Honda dealership.
GM considered doing the same. Nissan, meanwhile, had to warn its dealers to honor lease-to-own rates after some tried to renegotiate them or impose new fees.