That’s the crux of it. As a general rule, don’t put money down on a lease. However, each deal is different, and each buyer has different goals. He wanted a low payment, so used the rebates to cover. He saves on some interest too.
It’s odd, but it feels more like semantics at this point. If this was a manufacture rebate, we would not even be having the conversation, and yet it means the same exact thing.
Another thing to consider on deals like this is a One-Pay, if you can spare the cash up front, it is a cheaper and safer bet.