Japan Inc. using deals, incentives to keep hard-fought lease customers from defecting

Japanese automakers are turning to new lease programs in an effort to lock down buyers who may stray to other automakers due to a lower-than-average supply of popular models. Toyota, Honda and Nissan are still in the process of restoring production to pre-earthquake levels, and as a result, buyers may not find the exact model they are looking for on dealer lots. Honda has authorized its dealers to extend current lease customers' arrangements by up to six months. Additionally, the company is offering $500 to drivers who move from an old lease into a new one and promising to honor current incentives if buyers commit to an unavailable model. The automaker calls the effort the Honda Promise Program.

But Honda isn't the only company sweetening its deals. Automotive News reports that Toyota is extending its lease offers by six months and handing out a coupon worth $750 to customers who return to lease another Toyota product. Nissan is offering dirt-cheap lease options for its most popular model – the Altima. Buyers can snap up the sedan for $179 per month for two years.

Manufacturers are also pushing for better lease deals due to a dearth of quality used vehicles this season.

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