General Motors Corp. tells its U.S. dealers the auto maker’s captive financing arm will continue to offer a lease program at least through the month of August.

GM offers the assurance in response to inquiries from dealers after General Motors Acceptance Corp. chooses to discontinue incentivized leases in Canada as of Aug. 1, and the captive financing arm of Chrysler LLC says it will exit the leasing game altogether.

Ford Motor Co., BMW of North America LLC and American Honda Motor Co. Ltd. also have made news recently by taking financial impairments against their leasing portfolios.

“While we obviously can’t make guarantees, we are in the market today with competitive programs to make GMAC leasing more affordable and plan on continuing this financing alternative as part of our August incentive play on ’08 and ’09 models (with some adjustments and exceptions),” Mark LaNeve, vice president-vehicle sales, service and marketing at GM, writes in a letter sent to dealers late July 29 and obtained by Ward’s.

“Over the last few years and months,” he adds, “lease vehicles have become a smaller percentage of our sales, and we do see this trend continuing due to the relative high cost and risk compared to traditional cash or APR business.

“This is why we offer a balanced menu of cash incentives, APR and leasing programs to make GMAC financing an affordable alternative on almost every product in our lineup. Rest assured we will make every effort to stay competitive in this hypercompetitive market.”

While leases have made expensive vehicles such as fullsize pickups and SUVs more affordable to consumers in recent years, residual values on those vehicles have plummeted this year because consumers rapidly shifted away from the gas-guzzling trucks to more fuel-efficient passenger cars in the face of high pump prices.