How the VW lease deal went from zero to $1bn

The lease of the Volkswagen brand has been handed to the owners of the Lincoln Group for the first time, with a $1.1bn bid to buy the brand.

The deal was announced by the two-time world champion manufacturer last month.

But it is not the first lease deal of its kind in the world.

Earlier this year, a £1.3bn deal to lease the Bentley brand went through with the owners, while the BMW group also recently secured a £500m loan.

And the new deal, which will see the lease of all cars sold in Britain for 20 years, will be the largest in history.

Its value is expected to be in the region of $2.3 trillion.

However, the Bentley deal, announced last month, has been beset by controversy.

In November, it emerged that the Bentley owners, who bought the brand in 2009, had been paying $9m a year to lease a fleet of more than 200 vehicles, including the luxury Bentley Q7, which is being marketed as a luxury sports car.

They were also facing financial difficulties, with the value of their brand plummeting by almost 60 per cent since the end of 2013.

There were also reports that Bentley’s chief executive, Martin Winterkorn, had taken $250,000 of his salary in cash to meet the terms of the deal.

Meanwhile, Bentley’s stock fell in a dramatic stock market tumble, as investors feared the deal was a sign of bad timing for the brand, which had been a major buyer of British cars.

A spokesman for Bentley told the BBC the lease agreement had been “an extremely successful business move” that would help to keep the brand competitive in a world where the luxury market is growing at an unprecedented pace.

He added that the new ownership group was “actively pursuing” new ways to build on its success, and were “looking at potential future strategic opportunities”.

But critics have said the Bentley lease deal is just one part of a larger global trend of brands becoming “rent-a-loyalty” in a bid to increase their own brand value.

“It’s about brand loyalty in the 21st century, and the value that brands and owners of brands like Bentley, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz can command is increasingly increasing as they become more and more ‘rent- a-loyalties’ and have more and less control over their brand,” said Daniel Taylor, the chief executive of the Institute of Brand Management.

‘A disaster for consumers’ “This is a disaster for consumer choice and for the economy as a whole, because consumers will have to make hard choices about whether to buy a brand like Bentley or to buy other luxury brands that are cheaper,” he added.

Taylor told the programme: “The Bentley deal is a fantastic example of a global brand owner, a global retailer and a global owner-operator deciding to buy up a brand that is a success in one market but a failure in another market.”

Critics said the decision to buy was also based on the perception that consumers were less likely to return to a brand when they could buy a new car from a competitor, which could undermine the brand’s reputation and hurt its business.

As well as the Bentley and Porsche leases, the BBC said a number of other brands including Ferrari, Audi, Rolls-Royce and Mercedes are also currently negotiating deals for leases, with Mercedes-AMG currently in discussions with BMW over a potential deal for the luxury brand.