Honda Motor Co. has a rude surprise for drivers of its leased cars in the United States: No more turning in your vehicles to other dealers.
The carmaker said Thursday it will require the drivers with expiring leases to return their vehicles to authorized Honda and Acura dealers and refuse to accept buyouts from unaffiliated dealers or others. Honda cited tight supplies of cars and trucks as a result of shortfalls in critical components and congestion at ports as the economy recovers.
The Japanese company is the latest automaker in the U.S. to take more control over leases — and boost inventories — by limiting vehicle returns to its own dealer network. The industry has struggled to meet consumer demand in recent months due to a global shortage of semiconductors, which has curtailed production and lifted prices for used cars.
“Our goal is to make sure our dealers have access to quality pre-owned Honda and Acura vehicles to satisfy the needs of new and returning customers,” Petar Vucurevic, a vice president at Honda’s financing arm in the U.S., said in a statement.
Auto inventories in the U.S. stood at about 1.5 million units at the end of May, the equivalent of about 25 days of supply, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association. That’s down from 2.6 million units and 61 days a year ago amid the pandemic, which depressed demand as showrooms closed and consumers sheltered in place.
It’s not uncommon for drivers to get out of their leases by going through a third party — such as another dealer at a different brand who offers them a good price on a new car and is willing to take the old one off their hands.
The policy change, which Honda will reassess at the end of the year, applies to both existing and new leases, a spokesperson said.
Honda’s not alone in limiting options for drivers of leased vehicles looking to sell to the highest bidder. General Motors Co.’s financial arm introduced a similar policy earlier this month and Toyota Motor Corp. is reviewing its policy on leased vehicles.
While becoming more widespread, the practice is not new: A spokesperson for Ford Motor Co. said the company has refused to accept third-party lease returns for years.
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