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Vehicle Fleet

Definition: Vehicles owned by a company and used for business purposes

Does your business need a company vehicle for making deliveries, traveling to clients' offices, carrying equipment and more? Whether buying or leasing a vehicle is more advantageous for you depends on a variety of factors. And if you need several cars or vans for salespeople or delivery drivers, you may be eligible for fleet leasing programs that can save you big money.

Leasing a small fleet of cars, minivans or pickups is easier and more advantageous than ever. Businesses that buy or lease 10 or more vehicles qualify as commercial fleet buyers and are given a fleet registration number (obtained through the dealer), entitling them to all available manufacturers' and dealers' fleet incentive programs.

While manufacturers have always offered attractive discount programs to commercial fleet buyers, there have rarely been such programs for the small fleet lessee requiring fewer than 10 cars. Nowadays, however, many dealers are beginning to offer their own programs to business owners and will work with you to get your business. In fact, some dealers can get you a fleet registration number even if you lease only a few cars.

To decide whether fleet leasing is for you, sit down with your accountant and estimate what it will cost, taking into account monthly lease payments, insurance, gas, oil, maintenance and license fees. Will you need to hire someone to manage the fleet? If not, how will you keep tabs on regular tune-ups and administrative matters?

You may decide it's more economical to give your employees an allowance and have them lease their own cars. These and other questions should be put to your accountant before making a decision on fleet leasing. Always check to see what the penalties are for terminating a lease early, especially if your cash flow tends to fluctuate from month to month.

The typical considerations of leasing are multiplied when you lease several vehicles, so consider these possible pitfalls before you sign on the dotted line:

Once you've decided fleet leasing is for you, here are some additional questions to ask:

There are several fleet financing companies that will discuss incentive programs, modified payments and your buying needs. To find them, ask your dealer to provide a business line of credit or to recommend a leasing company with whom the dealer already does business. Check out other lenders under "Leasing" in your Business-to-Business Yellow Pages. Ask your bank about its fleet leasing programs. Or use a buying service, which negotiates the deal and sets up the financing. You can find these in the Yellow Pages under "Automobile Brokers" or through auto clubs.