In what should portend strong certified pre-owned unit sales down the road, Experian’s latest State of the Automotive Finance Market report highlighted leasing volume as a share of all new models financed set another record during the second quarter.
Analysts on Tuesday indicated leasing continued its strong growth as the share of new vehicles leased jumped from 26.92 percent in Q2 2015 to a record-high of 31.44 percent in Q2 2016.
Even used vehicle leasing, which accounts for a small slice of the lease market, experienced growth, moving from 3.26 percent share in Q2 2015 to 3.71 percent in Q2 2016.
The credit quality of those new leases that were originated during the second quarter remained strong as 48.10 percent of those lessees fell into the prime tier with credit scores at 661 to 780. Finance companies decided to take a little more risk in the lease space, too: Experian noticed a 17 basis point rise in leases to subprime customers as the Q2 level came in at 7.41 percent.
5 times more super-prime paper than deep subprime originated in Q2
With used-vehicle financing leading the charge, Experian’s report showed finance companies booked significantly more contracts with super-prime customers during the second quarter than they did with deep subprime consumers.
Creating what analysts called steady growth and remarkable stability quarter-over-quarter, the second-quarter report determined that auto finance companies made more than five times as many loans to super-prime customers (17.9 percent of total auto loans and leases) as to deep-subprime customers (3.5 percent of total auto loans and leases).
That influx of higher-grade paper meant the combined subprime and deep-subprime share of new- and used-vehicle loans and leases dropped from 23.3 percent in Q2 2015 to 22.8 percent in Q2 2016, according to Melinda Zabritski, senior director of automotive finance for Experian.
“Automotive lenders seem to be keeping cool heads when it comes to how much risk they are willing to take with subprime and deep-subprime customers,” said Zabritski, who is coming back to the SubPrime Forum at Used Car Week for the fourth consecutive year to share more data and trends.
“Yes, subprime and deep-subprime loans are growing, but the entire market is growing from a volume perspective across all risk tiers,” she continued. “In fact, the subprime loans have actually dropped as a percentage of the total market. That, combined with only a slight uptick in delinquencies, makes clear that the sky is not falling.”
Experian determined 30-day delinquencies inched up just 3 basis points year-over-year from 2.19 percent in Q2 2015 to 2.22 percent in Q2 2016. Meanwhile, Experian found that 60-day delinquencies moved just 6 basis points higher from 0.56 percent to 0.62 percent in the same time period.
“Fear of an impending automotive subprime bubble has been swirling around the industry since the recovery from the Great Recession,” Experian said. “Those fears haven’t come to fruition.”
Overall, Experian reported that finance companies held $1.027 trillion in outstanding balances through the second quarter; that’s up from $932 billion a year earlier.
Each of the four major categories of providers that Experian designates posted year-over-year gains in outstanding balances. Those four categories include commercial banks (up by $27 billion), captives (up $13 billion), credit unions ($33 billion) and finance companies that do not hold deposits and often take on subprime risk (up $21 billion).
More used paper in portfolios
Experian highlighted used-vehicle loans grew to record heights in terms of average dollar amount and overall loan share during the second quarter.
The average used vehicle loan reached an all-time high of $19,101 in Q2, up from $18,671 in Q2 of last year.
Used-vehicle contract volume also reached a new peak, accounting for 55.61 percent of all vehicle loans during the second quarter.
Analysts noticed the growth was driven by jumps in prime and super-prime consumers choosing used vehicles. Specifically, 43.3 percent of super-prime consumers selected a used vehicle, which represents a 10 percent increase over 2015. For prime consumers, 59.9 percent chose used, a 6.6 percent increase over the previous year.
This shift also helped push the average credit score for a used vehicle loan from 645 in Q2 2015 to 648 in Q2 2016.
“One of the biggest trends we continue to see is the shift to used vehicles by customers with excellent credit,” said Zabritski, who will appear during the SubPrime Forum, which runs Nov. 14-16 at the Red Rock Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
“As vehicle prices continue to rise, savvy consumers are looking for ways to control costs. That appears to be pushing more customers toward used vehicles,” she went on to say.
Other Q2 2016 findings:
• The average monthly payment for a used vehicle was $364, up from $361 in Q2 2015.
• The average monthly payment for a new vehicle loan was $499, up from $483 in Q2 2015.
• The average new vehicle loan amount was $29,880, up $1,356 from the Q2 2015 average new vehicle loan amount of $28,524.
• Average customer credit scores for new vehicle loans fell slightly, from 709 in Q2 2015 to 708.
• The average loan term for a new vehicle went from 67 months in Q2 2015 to 68 months.