Ford is winding down the car leasing scheme it launched three years ago with a 5m advertising campaign, after attracting less than 100 customers in the UK.
Called Acumen, the scheme was initiated after the Government reduced the VAT payable on leased goods by 50 per cent (MW August 4, 1995). It was set up by Ford Credit, Ford’s car finance subsidiary.
Other motor companies quickly followed with their own leasing schemes, which many believed would create a new sub-sector within the car market for people who could not afford, or were unwilling to buy a new car.
Under the Acumen scheme drivers lease the car for two years at a fixed cost (covering all expenses except petrol and insurance), returning it when the lease expires.
One Ford dealer says: “Even with the VAT reduction it was still an expensive scheme and I don’t think British people like the idea of having to hand the car back at the end of the lease period.”
Another dealer adds: “No one I know has ever used the scheme.”
A Ford Credit spokesman denies the company is dropping Acumen, but concedes the product is no longer being marketed.
“Acumen has not done a great deal of business, but the launch campaign got people into our showrooms and thinking about different forms of finance. That was our intention.”
Meanwhile, an insider at Peugeot says Fusion, the leasing scheme it set up shortly after Ford’s Acumen, “is in very real danger of being phased out”.