2011 Lexus LFA
When Lexus revealed in March that the LFA supercar would only be available for lease instead of regular purchase in the U.S., many were taken aback--especially since the lease was non-transferable except in the event of the buyer's death. But Lexus appears to have eased up on that restriction, and is now allowing buyers to purchase the car outright, though they retain a right of first refusal should the first owner want to sell the car.
The reasoning behind the lease-only move was that it's illegal in the U.S. to fix retail sales prices, but leases can be set at any price the manufacturer desires. Lexus wanted to use the lease method to prevent price gouging by greedy dealers or resellers, as happens often with the introduction of new limited-volume cars.
Now, however, according to a letter received by a prospective LFA owner, the car can be purchased--provided to agree to let Lexus retain the right to re-purchase the car if the buyer seeks to sell it during the first two years. The re-purchase price will be determined as either the lower of either the original sticker price or the fair market value of the car. That should do just as good a job of keeping ruthless resellers from jacking up the price on the cars, while also allowing those that would rather not deal with a lease the option to buy.
Once the car passes the two-year-old mark, however, the buyer will then be free to do with the car as he or she pleases, as with any other car purchase. While we're still a bit perturbed by the right of first refusal, we're glad to see Lexus is doing its best to defend the market from third-party price gouging.
It's important to remember, however, that the LFA's sticker price is in the neighborhood of $375,000 before optional package add-ons, so you might argue Lexus is already price gouging despite taking a likely loss on each car--especially when you factor in performance, equipment, and badge value against other hyper-exotics like Aston Martin, Ferrari, and Lamborghini.