China’s banking regulator has allowed the financial arm of Mercedes Benz to offer vehicle leases in the country, the Wall Street Journal reported. Ulrich Walker, chairman and CEO of Daimler Northeast Asia, said leasing will begin in Beijing from March. The first clients are likely to be corporate customers, such as hotels, with the service expanding to other cities and private customers by the end of the year. The approval suggests that Beijing is willing to turn to financing tools to stimulate car sales, which have been in decline since late last summer. Walker said leasing is "very much part of the stimulus program." The paucity of customer credit history in China means there is a risk to extending credit for cars. Mercedes Benz first began offering loans to car buyers in China in 2006, but only 10% of its customers use these loans in making purchases.
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