SCHAUMBURG, Ill. — Affordability continues to remain top-of-mind for most in the automotive industry. However, consumers appear to be making due, according to Experian’s Q2 2019 State of the Automotive Finance Market report, which finds consumers are exploring all available options to make costs more manageable, including extending loan terms and deciding between new or used vehicles.
One of the more notable ways consumers have managed to make their monthly payments more affordable is to opt for used vehicles. In fact, prime and superprime consumers financed used vehicles at record levels — these borrowers comprised more than 57% of used-vehicle financing during the second quarter.
The shift to used vehicles comes as the average loan amounts for vehicles continue to rise.
“In previous years, it was common for most prime borrowers to opt for new vehicles. These vehicles tend to have better warranties and require less upfront maintenance,” said Melinda Zabritski, Experian’s senior director of automotive financial solutions. “But with loan amounts for new and used vehicles on the rise, and a higher volume of vehicles coming off-lease, there are late-model options available that borrowers can consider. It’s important for the industry to keep an eye on these trends to help inform future business decisions.”
The shift to used vehicles comes as the average loan amounts for vehicles continue to rise. Based on the report, the average amount for a new-vehicle loan amount was $32,119, while the average used-vehicle loan amount hit $20,156. Additionally, the average monthly payments were $550 and $392 for new and used, respectively.
The report also found that consumers appear to be managing payments by extending loan terms. The average loan terms for new and used vehicles reached record highs. For new vehicles, the average loan term was 69.17 months, while the average loan term was 64.82 months for used vehicles. The extension of loan terms come as interest rates continue to remain more than 6% for new vehicles and more than 10% for used.
“There are many factors that can impact vehicles costs and car buying decisions, but perhaps the factor that is most critical is a car shopper’s credit score — it can impact interest rates and loan terms, which impacts monthly payments,” Zabritski said. “Prior to heading into the dealership, car shoppers should explore ways to improve their credit standing, such as leveraging new tools and resources available to them, like Experian Boost, that can help increase their score and potentially arrange better terms.”
Some industry pundits continue to be concerned that consumers can’t handle larger payments. However the data tells a different story, analysts said, noting that delinquencies remained stable in Q2 2019. Thirty-day delinquencies dropped to 2.11%, from 2.12% in Q2 2018, while 60-day delinquencies saw a slight increase from 0.64% to 0.65% in the same timeframe.