The short answer is Yes.
However, it can sometimes get a little more complex depending on the age of the vehicle, how it is worded online and if the manufacturer has built more supply than there is for demand…
Let’s start at the beginning.
In order for a leasing company to a discount from the manufacturer, they will have to buy in bulk to meet the requirement.
You have to think if this in terms of a supermarket vs Cosco situation. A supermarket is reasonably well priced for individual or multi-buy products, such as 2 for 1. Costco on the other hand either sells in bulk or by size.
If we switch that to a used car. You or me (the individual) will buy a single car at a time, and may potentially get a little discount from the dealer.
On the other hand, the dealer/leasing company will buy five, ten or hundreds of cars at a time, and negotiate the level of discount before they order the vehicle.
What this means is that you will often find that they (the dealer/leasing company) will often have surplus unsold stock that’s been registered (i.e. it has a registration plate).
This has a two-fold benefit to you, the customer. The vehicle generally won’t have moved since delivery, and will still be shrouded in Hanibal Lector style plastic to protect the seats/body. It may have also been sat in storage for 3 months, which means that 3 months worth of depreciation will have been written off. This is where you see amazing deals on “new” vehicles when you start to research online. The overall benefit is that you get a cheaper lease.
Now, let’s add another layer. The United Kingdom has 3 registration plate changes throughout a year. One in January, One in March, and one in September. (The one in January is based on the current year, with the previous September plate).
A leasing company orders 20 vehicles for delivery in March for the new plate. They sell 15 of them. (remember, all 20 vehicles have been registered at this point, they are all on the March plate)
Over the next few months, they don’t sell any, so those 5 vehicles are simply sat around losing value.
September is looming, and the new plate is coming into effect…
A customer enquires in July for one of these vehicles and would like immediate delivery. Because the customer waited for an “in-stock” deal, they now get the benefit of 4 months worth of depreciation being taken off the Residual Value (the value of the car at the end of the lease). Remember, the car is brand new, it hasn’t moved since delivery, but a vehicle is a depreciating asset, so the customer gets the benefit of that.
You also find “in-stock” deals if the manufacturer simply wants to get rid of a particular model year (shape) at a certain point in time.
A good example for this would be the new shape Mini, you know, the one with the union jack in the rear lights that recently came out. There will have been A LOT of deals going around to get rid of the old shape mini (without the union jack tail lights) just because the manufacturer builds that particular model due to the amount of demand a Mini has in the market. There will have been a crossover point when customers wanted the new shape Mini and not the old shape. Therefore you will have seen some incredible deals on the old shape just to get them off the Mini forecourt.
Whilst the wording online will treat these as “new”, the leasing company will still treat this as a used vehicle when it comes to putting a contract together for you (since it’s already been registered).
Generally, a vehicle that is “in-stock” is not being stored with the leasing company, these are still with the manufacturer (most likely a random dealership somewhere in the country). The leasing company will call the dealer to make sure the vehicle is still available, so you have to jump on them reasonably quickly if you think it might go.
Some websites will actually tell you how many of that particular vehicle they have left, be it, 2 or 3 – and they’re probably not lying.
So, whilst you are absolutely getting a new car when you lease, the way the financial aspect of the lease is calculated is very different if the vehicle has been sat in storage for some time.
This all feeds into how the Residual Value is calculated. After all, how can a used vehicle have the same value in the future as it did 3 months ago…