One of the questions we do get asked a lot by our customers is whether or not you can add additional specification to a lease car? The answer to this is that it very depends on the vehicle/ the finance company and the additional specification the customer requires.
With the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Testing Procedure (WLTP), which is something we have been discussing in our recent blogs, cars now have to be tested under more rigorous standards. This applies for all vehicles registered on or after September 2018 (unless they appear on a derogation list). Under the previous testing mechanism, the NEDC, the influence of optional equipment was not taken into account when considering CO2 and performance. Under WLTP all additional features are going to be considered as part of the testing standards. This subtle change may have more seismic changes that what consumers may think. Some manufacturers offer almost limitless choice for a car; with the ability to amend the alloys, comfort, design and technical aspects. In allowing the individuality/choice to a car, this perhaps enables a customer to get a more bespoke experience. However, with each element of specification now being potentially part of the laboratory test, you have to question the time and resources which a manufacturer will have to invest into this.
If you look at manufacturers like Nissan, Hyundai and Kia, they operate a more streamlined operation to specification. When you choose a vehicle you select a trim i.e. N-Connecta, Tekna, Se Nav, “3”, Gt Line – the result is that, apart from a colour, there is very little else you can add to the vehicle.
In some cases, you might be able to add a certain pack but fundamentally you go up/down the trim depending upon what specification which you need. This helps the process as a customer can quite easily understand the options available to them and the build process/cost of the build is more efficient for the manufacturer.
It is unsurprising that many deals arise on these products as they are quicker to obtain and are often more cost-effective to the customer. While there has been no communication from other manufacturers noting a policy change in specification, were are still waiting for the cost and time impact of WLTP to properly come into force. If manufacturers start to experience more costs and longer lead times, dealerships and brokers are going to struggle to sell their product with the same emphasis. The age of brand-loyalty is over; customers will often go the quickest and cheapest option.
In addition to the above, a changing attitude towards “deals” has seen further queries raised about dealer-fitted/3rd party fitted additional extras. Many of our leading offers are based on bulk purchases. This will mean that a vehicle is either in stock (and built) or is due to go to build with no ability to amend or change the specification. Historically, many leasing deals were based on enhanced discounts/terms for a particular product and the customer would have the ability to amend or change their product as they saw fit. For a company car driver, this was (and is) a practical approach, as it allows your sales team to discuss the vehicle in depth and build something which is exactly what you require. However, this is a slower and more time consuming approach meaning that many manufacturers do not have the time and some customers, particularly the personal contract hire market, do not have the patience. To appease all parties, more pre-built vehicles have been introduced into the lease deals market.
How to add options, specification, trim levels and different alloy wheels...
With all of the above, the customer has less choice on their new vehicle. Quite commonly a customer will ask about sun protection glass, a towbar and vehicle wrapping on a vehicle. Due to the nature of the deals, it is often impossible to add these to the car as a “manufacturer option” i.e. at the factory yet some options and modifications are applicable (read more...) This means you will need to ask either a dealer, or third-party, to do this for you. To ensure this causes no issues, we will add this to your contract hire agreement, so that the finance company are aware of it when the vehicle is returned to them; there is a risk that they will charge you at the contract end for adding any extras which you do not tell them about (particularly if they de-value the vehicle). If you do add this to the contract then you must also ensure it is there at the contract end too. When you add the option to the contract, you will have to 2 choices on payment:
In each instance, do speak to the finance company or leasing broker about the option to avoid any unnecessary issues or charges. For example, if you add a towbar after the event and you damage the vehicle when this is removed, you run a risk of charges for remediation. This is why it is important that you use either a dealer or a reputable fitter. This needs to be carried out to the appropriate standards
So in theory, YES you can add after-market products to your lease car BUT in practice you need to effectively communicate this to all concerned.
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