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Down Economy, Tighter Lending Moves Consumers to Used-Vehicle Market

June 9, 2009

SCHAUMBURG, Ill., — A struggling economy and stricter lending criteria have pushed more consumers toward used vehicle loans, according to Experian Automotive.

Used vehicle loans accounted for 68.13 percent of all automotive loans in the first quarter of 2009, up from 64.3 percent of all automotive loans in the first quarter of 2008. Share of loans for new vehicles fell to 31.87 percent in the first quarter of 2009, compared with 35.7 percent in the first quarter of 2008.

“Banks, credit unions and captive finance companies appear to have tightened their lending criteria as they look to mitigate risk,” said Melinda Zabritski, director of automotive credit for Experian Automotive. “Loans are still available, but lenders are changing terms. This is pushing some consumers out of the new vehicle market and into the used vehicle market. Some finance companies that specialize in subprime loans have seen their share increase as traditional lenders move away from riskier loans.”

Independent used vehicle dealers — those dealers not affiliated with a specific manufacturer — were the biggest winners in the first quarter, seeing their share of used vehicle loans rise from 31.58 percent in the first quarter of 2008 to 34.97 percent in the first quarter of 2009. Independent dealers typically serve customers with lower credit scores and are gaining share as traditional lenders tighten their loan criteria.

Other findings include the following:

· Loans 30 days past due were up 11.3 percent year over year in the first quarter of 2009, while loans 60 days past due were up 19.5 percent. Currently, 2.48 percent of all automotive loans are 30 days past due, compared with 2.22 percent in the first quarter of 2008. Automotive loans 60 days past due rose to 0.82 percent from 0.69 percent.

· Consumer credit also has worsened in the past year, with the percentage of consumers who are considered prime decreasing by 2.6 percent. Conversely, the percentage of highest-risk consumers grew by 6.03 percent.

· Minnesota, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Iowa and Massachusetts boasted the highest average credit score for new vehicle loans in the first quarter, while New Hampshire, Connecticut, Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin had the highest average credit score for used vehicle loans.

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