Cars are full of tech that gets outdated fast — so people are leasing, not buying – Los Angeles Times

Buy a smartphone, use it for a couple of years, then ditch it for something new and improved.

It’s a life cycle that has become the norm for cellphones. Now, that same short-term relationship is applying to what traditionally has been a long-term commitment: cars.

Instead of buying a vehicle, more Americans are shifting to leasing, which allows drivers to utilize a new or used car for a limited amount of time, typically three years. A report from Edmunds found that leasing volume has skyrocketed this decade — to 4.3 million vehicles in 2016 from 1.4 million vehicles in 2009. Last year marked the seventh consecutive year of lease growth.

Much like new technology is the driving force behind the short life cycle for cellphones, the same forces are now at play with automobiles. In recent years, automakers have started calling themselves technology companies, pointing to big jumps in software innovation that have improved navigation, safety and infotainment systems.

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