As buyers’ appetites for bigger and more expensive vehicles grow, Edmunds found the contract term length for new-model financing reached an all-time high in June with the terms for used-vehicle deliveries not far off that record-setting pace.
According to a new analysis released on Monday, Edmunds determined the average contract length for new-vehicle financing stretched to 69.3 months in June — up 6.8 percent from five years ago.
On the used-vehicle side, analysts indicated term length grew by 6.0 percent during the past five years to land at 66.9 months in June.
While the term lengths might be similar, the other metrics Edmunds shared in the used-vehicle market versus the new-model realm showed the variance in financial capacity and willingness to take on debt.
Edmunds found the average amount new-car buyers financed in June recorded the biggest uptick for the year, hitting $30,945; that’s a spike of $631 from May. With a larger outstanding balance, Edmunds pointed out these buyers are now carrying the highest monthly payments for the year, averaging $517 in June, which is up from $510 in May.
As far as used vehicles, Edmunds’ analysis showed the average amount financed sat at $21,142, leaving contract holders with a monthly payment at $383.
“Stretching out loan terms to secure a monthly payment they’re comfortable with is becoming buyers’ go-to way to get the cars they want, equipped the way they want them,” said Edmunds executive director of industry analysis Jessica Caldwell.
“It’s financially risky, leaving borrowers exposed to being upside down on their vehicles for a large chunk of their loans, but it’s also a sign that consumers are still confident enough in the economy to spend more on their vehicles and commit to paying for them longer,” Caldwell continued.
Finance companies are attempting to mitigate their risk by securing larger down payments for both new- and used-vehicle deliveries.
In June, down payments jumped by healthy amounts on a year-over-year basis, rising 7.1 percent to $2,453 for used-vehicle deals and climbing 6.6 percent to $3,687 for new-model deliveries.
Also of note, Edmunds also noticed that the APR on new-vehicle financing dipped just below 5 percent for the first time since February, averaging 4.96 percent in June. The APR has increased 5.7 percent from a year ago and 13.6 percent from five years ago.
For used-car financing, the average APR came in at 7.64 percent, which is 2.7 percent higher year-over-year, according to Edmunds, which also pointed out that the June average rate was actually 5.4 percent lower than five years ago.
Meanwhile, the analysts over at Kelley Blue Book also added to the discussion, sharing on Monday that their estimated average transaction price (ATP) for light vehicles in the United States came in at $34,442 in June.
KBB reported new-car prices have increased by $511 or 1.5 percent year-over-year, while remaining relatively flat compared to May.
“Transaction prices grew more slowly than normal in June, increasing less than 2 percent,” said Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “As the industry enters a ‘post-peak’ environment for new-car sales, more pressure will be placed on transaction prices.
“Kelley Blue Book is seeing more mixed results among manufacturers and popular segments, such as full-size trucks and mid-size cars, both of which are flat, as well as compact SUVs, which rose 1 percent. These trends are likely to continue as retail sales weaken,” Fleming went on to say.