Bargain of the day: £23,690 for a car you never own

Recently we had an email from avid Bitterwallet reader Richard. He claimed that the shiny new Nissan Leaf, wunderkind electric car a snip at just £23,490 (after deducting a Government contribution of £5,000) was actually a bit of a swizz. He claimed that, after giving Nissan over £23.5k you would still not own the car.

We have to admit, we thought he was, well, a couple of cans short of a six pack, but intrepid consumer investigators that we are, we looked into it anyway.

This is the Nissan finance example- with the just £239 a month deal explained in more detail on the next webpage. Here we learn that in addition to a £3,500 cash deposit and 36 monthly payments of £238.99 (a total of £12,103.64) you can make an ‘optional’ final payment of £11,585.93. This is, of course, the vital detail that Richard must have missed. The balloon payment at the end of the term that lets you buy the car, right?

Actually, no. You see the £239 is the new Nissan Finance Lease example and in their terms and conditions it clearly states that “ Once you have paid the final rental you can keep using the car by paying an annual rental of £60; if you choose Nissan Finance Lease you will never own the car.” BW emphasis.

So it seems Richard was right after all. You can pay Nissan £23,689.57 not to own a car that can go up to 109 miles between charges. Ever. Best hurry though, this offer is only available until 28 March.

Still, it could be worse- imagine if Nissan didn’t get a £5,000 bung from the Government, that handy up-to-25%-off-up-to-a-maximum-of-£5k that the Government gives people* who purchase specific electric cars, including the Nissan Leaf. Now, we looked through all the available information on this, and this £5,000 is only available to ‘motorists’ who ‘purchase’ one of the listed vehicles. As we have just illustrated, Nissan Finance Lease purchasers do not ever actually purchase a car, so how come Nissan are still pocketing £5,000?

So we asked them. They said that “the car is purchased by a leasing company. Therefore the leasing company … purchases the LEAF and provides it to the driver.” They say that this “arrangement is entirely conventional”. So we also asked the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (Olev) how come a scheme that was supposed to help people purchase an environmentally-friendly vehicle was actually being used by finance companies to purchase cars and charge people lots of money to rent on those cars for ever. Or does it not matter who is pocketing the cash so long as people are driving electric cars. Slowly.

Olev hasn’t got back to us just yet.

*Actually this cash never goes to the purchaser, it only ever goes to the car company. Hence why the list price of the car is almost always miraculously calculated to generate a maximum £5,000 bung.


  • Kevin
    This is a leasing agreement, of course you don't own it! I know they are doing a con to get the money but if you enter a deal with a leasing company you are only ever leasing it. The word lease is a bit of a giveaway.
  • jokester
    @Kevin And where on that website does it say "lease" ? It intentionally misleads potential customers and implies that it is a normal finance agreement, with no mention whatsoever of it being a "lease". Also, normally with a lease, you can buy the car off them at the end of the agreement. With this "offer", you can't. On this deal, I'm not sure what you get for the Optional Final Payment - you seem to pay £11,585.93 for... um.... nothing whatsoever??? Worst. Deal. Ever.
  • Phuck Y.
    Paying installments and never own the car, that's what's known as leasing. What a twonk. Nissan, (wankers though they are) are just allowing you to continue to use the car should you wish beyond the lease period. To be honest, you won't want the fucking thing after all your initial excitement after the battery starts to fuck up and only does 30 miles before you conk out outside a Shell station, where people will stand, point and laugh at your fits of rage as you can't put a drop of petrol in it.
  • Mienaikage
    "Once you have paid the *final* rental you can keep using the car by paying an annual rental" I think I need a new dictionary for words such as 'unlimited' and 'final' as they clearly don't mean what I think they mean.
  • Alexis
    "Nissan, (wankers though they are) are just allowing you to continue to use the car should you wish beyond the lease period. " Yes, but I've never come across a lease deal where you pay them monthly for 36 months and then can pay them £11k +£60pm to continue for another 46 months. What's the point of leasing if they want a lump sum up front? Why would anyone do that when they could just start a new lease deal with a car 3 years newer. Not that I care about anyone that buys a car that can only travel 50 miles. Remember you have to come back home, so you need to halve the range!
  • Sicknote
    It's a complete load of bollocks in terms of the marketing message.
  • Mr M.
    French cars always have rubbish electrics, this is an electric car, I'm beginning to see a problem.
  • Han S.
    @Mr Miagi Didn't realise a Japanese car company building cars in Britain was classed as French
  • Mr M.
    Nissan are re-badged Renaults. I have the displeasure of owning a Nissan van. Among other things the geniuses behind it decided a Laguna gearbox would be perfectly capable in a van...
  • jokester
    @Mr Miagi "Nissan are re-badged Renaults." - what the hell have you been smoking, and can I have some? :D
  • Adrian
    So if you are leasing the vehicle, does this mean that whenever the car breaks down or looses range THEY fix it or provide a replacement? ...Could work out quite good value over 50 years.

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