Next April we will be spending at least a month in France and Italy and I have decided to lease. The car manufacturers Peugeot, Citroen and Renault have their own programs, and third party companies such as AuotEurope and IdeaMerge also offer this service. The car choices may vary somewhat, but basically they all seem to charge the same price. Does anyone have any experiences with any of these companies that you can share? Also any advantages/disadvantages with manufacturers over third party companies?
For longer stays we have leased a few times from both Renault USA and the AutoEurope Peugeot program. No matter, all the companies use the same dealer, TT, and the same insurance. The insurance coverage is more extensive than with a rental, as even windshields are covered, which we can personally attest. Tom's point about Renault service being widely available is a good one. Additionally, I prefer the feel of the Renault, particularly when shifting. It's closer to my VW. In the future we're more likely to go back to Renault USA. AutoEurope was unhelpful when we had a glitch with Peugeot. However, we will contiue to rent, but not lease, through AutoEurope in the future if they have the best price.
I retired from a major automobile company, and consider myself very up to date on leasing and auto rentals. I managed one of the world's larger lease fleets. I looked at one of the European lease programs last week, and don't consider it to be any bargain. I would think you could easily beat the total payments on a straight rental through AutoEurope.com. I was looking at a 1 month program. In all honesty, I didn't look at longer programs, like 4-5 months. And taking the car back into the original country, usually France, can be an additional expense and a hassle.
I like my European flights open jaw. I also like to drop off my rental car closer to my departure point.
I've leased from Renault 4 times and I've never had a problem. You can return a leased car in Italy if you're willing to pay the one-way fee, which very possibly may be less than the cost of driving the car back to France. I've always found leasing to be cheaper than renting when you factor in the insurance. Leasing comes with full, no-deductible coverage. To match that with a rental you'd have to buy "Super CDW" coverage. I also like the availability of 24/7 roadside assistance, and the fact that you get a brand-new car. AutoEurope & Ideamerge are middlemen for the French programs. I've always leased directly from Renault; I've never found any advantage to using a middleman. I've always gone with Renault, because when you drive around France it seems like every small town has a service garage with a Renault sign.
David, for the time period and vehicle I want, the lease option is considerably cheaper. I am pricing a pick up in Nice airport at 1 PM on April 5 and a off at Rome airport at 5 PM on May 5. For a Renault Scenic, 5 passenger, automatic trans., $0 deductible collision and theft, AutoEurope rental is $3165 and the IdeaMerge lease is $2427. The same specs for a Citroen C4 Picasso, AutoEurope rental at $3303 and IdeaMerge lease is $2467. Plus the IdeaMerge price includes GPS, while AutoEurope charges for it (you don't know the cost until after arranging the rental). Even price aside, what was so much more attractive with the lease is the car is brand new and you get the exact car you order, not a "similar" car. I've rented domestically and internationally for decades and over that period there were occasions where I have gone back to the rental counter because of the poor condition of the vehicle or because it reeked of cigarette smoke. I've researched the car I want by viewing car reviews on British websites like carbuyer.co.uk. The car I will likely lease is a Renault Clio IV Estate. I can't specify that with AutoEurope (if they even have them). Tom and Bets, thanks for your evaluation of third party versus direct. On one hand I thought a high volume middleman might be of assistance if you have a problem, but maybe not so. I have communicated with IdeaMerge and they say they are always available to assist with any issues. They seem very customer centric, but I was hoping to get some first hand experience from contributors here.
Clio Estate is my preferred car. The engine is strong enough, the stick is still 5-speed, not six, and it has good truck space. We had one a couple of times; we've also had Megans and Megan Scenics. But Clio Estate is my favorite.
BTW, the Peugeot problem stemmed from a lack of communication between Peugeot and all its third-party vendors. AutoEurope just seemed uninterested in the problem, though they have been excellent settling rental problems in the past.
Thanks for that validation of my selection of the Clio IV Estate. I wouldn't mind the manual, but my wife can't drive one and we want her to be able to take the car. Otherwise I was even considering a Peugeot RCZ!
I've only done Renault. My choice was based on a car that suited us best. For us (two adults, three kids 8-16), a seven-passenger Renault Grand Scenic II was perfect. We started in Amsterdam and dropped in Rome (had the car for 28 days of our six week itinerary). Pick up was fine, drop off was a little iffy - we had to search for our contact more than an hour (he insisted he was looking for us in another part of the airport - fortunately we weren't catching a flight that day - Italy, you have to laugh). If you only need a small car, renting may be the better option. I find rentals are cheap for small cars but the price goes up rapidly for anything larger or more specialized - that's when leasing really makes sense. One nice thing with renting is more pick-up/drop-off options than leasing - and you can avoid drop fees by dropping one car, crossing the border, and picking up another.
Paul, Renault Drive and the Peugeot lease program (forgot the name) are all great programs if they fit your circumstances. The pros over traditional rental are more comprehensive insurance and the fact you drive off the lot with a brand new car that has never been driven before. The cons are smaller selection of vehicles and the fact that should something happen to the car (a mechanical issue), you might be without a replacement up to 48 hours (if the fine print is still the same). Drop-off or pick-up fess for locations outside France are not cheap, but far less expensive than those of traditional rentals.