On my frequent trips to Italy, I take advantage of the French Buy Back Lease, which allows me to drive a brand new car of my choosing for the length of my stay, complete with full insurance coverage, for just about the same as renting. When I'm done with it, I simply turn it in. No need to fill the tank.
Is it too good to be true? Well, here's the thing. You must lease for a period of at least 17 days (some programs have longer minimum lease periods). The lease car can cost a bit more than some rentals, but remember--it comes with great, full coverage insurance with zero deductable. More on that later. Here's a list of the common requirements you'll need to fulfill before you canlease a car in Italy:
The lease buy back program is just like owning your own new car in Europe. In fact, you do technically own the car, but it's been pre-sold as used to someone who wants it after you're done with it.
It'll have to be a French car: Peugeot, Renault, or Citroen. You see, the French government has cleverly blessed this program, which produces big benefits for all.
Here's how it works. First off, the VAT, or value added tax, on a new car in Europe is around 20%. So if Bobz Car Rentals wants to add new cars to its fleet, it is forced to pay that tax. But what if you lease the cars to tourists, who effectively pay the tax and then some, depending on the duration of the lease, and when they're done, pre-sell the car to Bobz Car Rentals? Bobz Car Rentals gets a good deal because the price of a used car doesn't get VAT added to it, thus they save at least 20%. Meanwhile, you get a new, never been smoked in car--and the insurance coverage is very, very good because Bobz Car Rentals wants to get the car in good shape. Everybody wins.
On our latest trip to Italy, we looked out one morning and noticed that our tail light was in pieces on the ground. There was a black smudge on our bumper where it had been smacked by an unknown miscreant.
So we filled in the accident report as best we could, since we really didn't have an accident. Upon turning in our lease car, we point out the problem and the guy says, "It's nothing. You have good insurance. No problem. Since there's nobody to blame, we don't need any paper."
The odd thing was, we were in a rental car in Italy a few years before, and again got hit in the parking lot, this time in a train station while we were out touring. We bought the rental company's outragiously expensive insurance, so we though we were in the clear, blameless and insured.
But no. There was a 35 Euro "paperwork" charge.
I love leasing.
Find out more about leasing a Peugeot with Peugeot Open Europe, which only requires a minimum stay of 17 days.
Wandering Italy Blog Posts on Buy Back Leases:
Long Term Visitors to Italy: Lease, Don't Rent a Car (because a scratch costs $2258!)
Renting or Leasing a Car on Vacation (Leasing--where you get the car you actually want!)
Buy Back Leases - Ok, so you have to drive around Italy in a French car. We've done it for years. But we have peace of mind because our car is fully insured. Unlike rentals, nobody is low-balling the price and then charging an arm and a leg when they see a scratch on the door.