Quake-induced inventory shortage fuels demand for pre-leased vehicles

U.S. shoppers are using "bridge-the-gap" car leasing in greater numbers than ever before, according to the Web site “Bridge-the-gap” leasing is auto industry parlance for people taking over someone else’s remaining short-term car lease until dealer inventory levels return to normal so when they do they can buy the car they want to own.

This growing trend has become popular with those who are brand loyal to the Honda Accord (pictured) and other Japanese vehicles from Honda, Toyota, Lexus and others because inventory in Japanese manufacturers' U.S. dealerships has been sapped for the most part since the March 11 quake and tsunami devasted Japan, disrupting production at damaged factories.

“Especially because of high gas prices, smaller, more fuel-efficient models will continue to be in high demand,” said Sergio Stiberman, CEO of the Web site. “The production issues in Japan (created) shortages at the dealer levels, forcing shoppers to find a short-term solution.”

Taking over someone else’s short lease lets car shoppers get what they want ... kind of ... while making inventory issues at dealerships that don't have the rides they want a non-issue in the short term.

On, inventory of leases with less than a year remaining is up 6% compared with 2009 levels. All kinds of vehicles fit this category, from compact and hybrid cars and trucks to mid-sizes.

Monthly payments begin at $225 for vehicles like this. There is no down payment when taking over a short lease.

“The inventory shortage may create higher prices on some models,” Stiberman said. “Taking over an 8-month lease with low monthly payments would allow a person to delay their car shopping until the beginning of 2012, when inventories are expected back at normal levels.”

You can reach TN's Hawke Fracassa at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @HawkeFracassa.

Image source: Honda

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