New lease volume for the largest national lessors in the United States increased 5% from 2003 to 2004 according to a survey conducted by The Association of Consumer Vehicle Lessors (ACVL).

The results showed member lessors purchased 1.69 million leases in 2004 compared to 1.62 million in 2003.

"This small increase is a good sign that leasing is once again growing after five years of decline since the high water mark in 1999," ACVL said in a statement.

But it noted that the increased volume went entirely to manufacturer captive finance companies, which saw their lease volume grow by 9%. Bank lessors, on the other hand, saw their volume decline 17%.

ACVL said though the attention of consumers and dealers has shifted away from leasing in recent years, consumers are again realising the variety of leasing advantages.

These include: protection from continued volatility in used car prices and the possibility of unexpected depreciation; avoidance of the hassles of negotiating a trade-in value when the consumer wants a new vehicle; and reduced sales tax in most states since the tax is only paid on the lease payments rather than the full price of the vehicle.