Affordability continues to remain top-of-mind for most participants in and observers of the automotive industry. However, Experian explained consumers appear to be making due even as some industry pundits continue to be concerned that consumers can’t handle larger payments.
To reinforce its point that the data tells a different story, Experian released its Q2 2019 State of the Automotive Finance Market report on Thursday morning.
Analysts acknowledged consumers are exploring all available options to make costs more manageable, including extending contract terms and deciding between new or used vehicles.
Experian pointed out that one of the more notable ways consumers have managed to make their monthly payments more affordable is to opt for used vehicles. In fact, the report showed prime and super prime consumers financed used vehicles at record levels. Experian determined these borrowers comprised more than 57 percent of used vehicle financing during the second quarter.
“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,” Zabritski continued in a news release.
“It’s important for the industry to keep an eye on these trends to help inform future business decisions,” she went on to say.
Experian also mentioned the shift to used vehicles comes as the average amounts financed continue to rise.
Based on the report, the average amount financed on a new-vehicle contract came in at $32,119, while the average amount for a used-vehicle deal hit $20,156.
Additionally, the average monthly payments were $550 and $392 for new and used, respectively.
Furthermore, the report showed consumers appear to be managing payments by extending contract terms. The average loan terms for new and used vehicles reached record highs.
For new vehicles, the average term came in at 69.17 months, while the average term was 64.82 months for used vehicles. The extension of 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,” she continued.
Despite all of the elements in play, Experian pointed out that contract holders predominantly are maintaining their monthly commitments as delinquencies remained stable in Q2.
Analysts determined 30-day delinquencies dropped to 2.11 percent, from 2.12 percent in Q2 2018, while 60-day delinquencies saw a slight increase from 0.64 percent to 0.65 percent in the same time frame.
A few other additional findings for Q2 included:
—Outstanding automotive loan balances totaled $1.197 billion.
—The percentage of outstanding loan balances held by subprime and deep-subprime consumers saw slight growth YOY (from 18.81 percent in Q2 2018 to 18.95 percent in Q2 2019) but remained below 19 percent.
—New-vehicle leasing saw a slight decrease from 30.41 percent in Q2 2019 to 30.04 percent in Q2 2019.
—Credit scores saw a two-point increase for new vehicle financing (from 715 to 717) while used saw a 1-point increase (655 to 656) year-over-year.
—The average price difference in monthly payments between loans and leases is $92.
To watch a webinar when Experian experts plan to discuss the entire Q2 2019 State of the Automotive Finance Market report, visit this website.