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Letter 29: Motor Vehicle Leasing

The definition of "motor vehicle dealer" in the Wisconsin Statutes includes a corporation which rents motor vehicles with an option to purchase. Sec. 218.01(1)(a), Wis. Stats. This definition would appear to cover any bank which, as lessor, directly leases motor vehicles to Wisconsin residents under an agreement which permits the lessee to purchase the vehicle.

A "motor vehicle dealer" must obtain a license from the Division of Motor Vehicles. To qualify as a motor vehicle dealer an applicant must own or lease a permanent building where the vehicles are displayed as well as provide facilities to repair and service the vehicles, Sec. 218.01(3)(bf), Wis. Stats. These are licensing requirements which banks would have considerable difficulty in meeting.

The purpose of this letter is to ascertain whether any banks are actually engaged in this type of leasing operation in advance of suggesting any legislative change. If your bank is presently engaged in the leasing of motor vehicles under an arrangement in which the bank appears as the lessor and the lessee has, under the terms of the lease, an option to purchase the vehicle, please advise me by return mail. Those who indicate a present direct leasing program which includes an option to purchase will be contacted to discuss this problem in greater detail.

Bkg. Ltr. #29, December 14, 1978, Commissioner Mildenberg