In an interview for the Auto Remarketing Podcast in late March, Experian’s Melinda Zabritski said one auto financing metric she would be watching carefully in 2018 was the lease penetration rate.
“There are several things that I think are going to be very interesting for the coming year, one of which is a lot of questions around will leasing still remain at this 30-percent rate,” said Zabritski, the senior director of financial solutions at Experian.
So far, so good.
According to Experian’s State of the Automotive Finance Market released Thursday, 29.83 percent of new-car sales in Q1 were leases.
That’s down compared to 31.06 percent a year ago, but up from 28.28 percent in the fourth quarter.
In addition to remaining at elevated levels, leasing also continues to lean toward the higher credit tiers.
Experian said that in the first quarter, 48.57 percent of new leases went to prime consumers, up from 48.18 percent a year ago and 48.37 percent in the fourth quarter.
Similarly, the share of new-car leases going to super prime consumers climbed from 29.21 percent to 29.46 percent in the past year. In Q4, 29.09 percent of new-car leases were super prime.
Or, put it this way: a full 78 percent of leases during the first quarter of 2018 went to either of those top credit tiers.
The average credit score on a new-car lease during Q1 was 724, up from 722 in the fourth quarter and in Q1 of 2017.
Meanwhile, the average credit score on a new-car loan in the first quarter of this year was 716.
The average monthly payment on a new-car lease was $436 in Q1, compared to $430 in Q4. Average new-car loan payments reached another an all-time high at $523.
More analysis from Experian can be found in th below podcast with Auto Fin Journal senior editor Nick Zulovich, who interviewed Zabritski in Las Vegas during the AFSA Vehicle Finance Conference in late March.