As the subprime financing market continues to expand, Experian Automotive determined that loan terms continued to lengthen with the average automotive loan term reaching 66 months for the first time.
According to Experian’s latest State of the Automotive Finance Market report, loan terms in the first quarter of this year reached the highest level since the company began publicly reporting the data in 2006.
The analysis also showed that loans with terms extending out 73 to 84 months made up 24.9 percent of all new-vehicle loans originated during the quarter, growing 27.6 percent since the first quarter of last year.
The average amount financed for a new vehicle loan also reached an all-time high of $27,612 in Q1 2014, up $964 from the previous year. In addition, the average monthly payment for a new-vehicle loan reached its highest point on record at $474 in Q1 2014, up from $459 in Q1 2013.
“As the cost of purchasing a new vehicle continues to rise, consumers clearly are stretching the loan term to help lower monthly payments, keeping them at a manageable level,” Experian senior director of automotive credit Melinda Zabritski said.
“The benefit of a longer-term loan is the lower monthly payment; however, the flip side of that is consumers can find themselves paying more in interest or being upside-down on their loan if they seek to trade their vehicle in early. It is definitely a choice that consumers will want to weigh carefully before making a final purchasing decision,” Zabritski continued.
Experian indicated that consumers also continued to lease new vehicles at record levels.
Of all new vehicles financed, 30.2 percent were leased in Q1 2014, compared to 27.5 percent in Q1 2013. Interestingly, of all new vehicles sold (whether financed or purchased in cash), a staggering one in four, or 25.6 percent, were leased in Q1 2014, compared to 22.9 percent in Q1 2013.
Overall, loans and leases for new vehicles were easier to obtain in Q1 2014. For new vehicle loans, the average credit score was 714, down from 722 in Q1 2013. For leases, the average credit score was 721 in Q1 2014, compared to 731 in Q1 2013.
“Over the last several quarters, leasing has come back as a very desirable option for consumers,” Zabritski said.
“Whether they are interested in getting the latest and greatest models or simply do not want to commit to a long-term purchase, consumers are leasing new vehicles in greater numbers than ever before,” she continued. “However, what they need to remember is that without good credit, it may be more difficult to get a lease, and that leases have mileage caps so they need to make sure their lifestyle fits the leasing requirements.”
Meanwhile, Experian noticed that subprime financing roses for new vehicles but dropped for used models.
Market share for nonprime, subprime and deep subprime new vehicle loans rose slightly in Q1 2014 to 34.34 percent from 33.68 percent in Q1 2013.
For used vehicles, nonprime, subprime and deep subprime loans accounted for 64.2 percent of all loans, down 2.6 percent from 65.91 percent in Q1 2013.
Zabritski pointed out four other trends from the latest data, including:
—The average credit score for a used vehicle loan in Q1 2014 was 641, up from 637 in Q1 2013
—Average monthly payments for used vehicles rose from $348 in Q1 2013 to $352 in Q1 2014
—New vehicle interest rates rose from 4.47 in Q1 2013 to 4.54 percent in Q1 2014
—Used vehicle interest rates rose from 8.75 percent in Q1 2013 to 9.01 percent in Q1 2014