When the auto market fell apart last year, the era of cheap car leases came to an abrupt end. And only recently have manufacturers tiptoed cautiously back into offering lease payments for some models, rather than selling them outright.
The latest maker to join the lease parade is Tesla Motors, which is now offering leases starting at $1,658 a month on its all-electric 2010 Tesla Roadster and Roadster Sport two-seat convertibles.
That payment gets you 30,000 miles over a three-year period. There's also the minor matter of $12,453 due at signing, which includes a $9,900 down payment, the first month's lease payment, and $895 for something called an "acquisition fee".
As usual, the lessee is responsible for tax, title, license, registration, and any other local taxes or fees that may apply.
And, as Tesla notes, leases are subject to credit approval. The boilerplate says, "Not all customers will qualify for this lease program," which seems obvious to us, but no doubt the lawyers require such statements.
Excess miles cost $0.25 each, and there's also a lease disposition fee of $350. Lessees can purchase their Tesla Roadster when the lease ends, at a price to be specified at the time.
Just like buyers, lessees can have house calls by Tesla's mobile service squad, known as the Tesla Rangers. They do annual inspections, upgrade the car's firmware, and perform any needed maintenance--at a cost of $1 per mile from the nearest service location, roundtrip, with a minimum charge of $100.
If you have your heart set on a Tesla Roadster, leasing could give you a better way to get behind the wheel--which, we admit, is huge fun--if you don't happen to have $109,000 or more lying around. The number to call is 650-413-6300.