WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — Power Information Network recently identified some ways the national credit crisis is impacting the new-vehicle industry.

For instance, the down payment on a non-luxury finance transaction has jumped almost $1,000 during the last week of September over the January to July period. Also, this figure is up almost $500 over the last seven weeks.

"The down payment as a percentage of the purchase price has increased almost 2.5 percentage points from the January to July average to the late September period," officials pointed out.

"The portion of the transaction financed by a loan has dropped more than 2.5 points during the same period," executives continued.

During the first seven months of this year, the loan-to-cost ratio was almost 100 percent; however, in each of the last three weeks it has come in at just 95 percent, according to PIN.

"Since finance sources need cash and are reluctant to extend credit, they are going to charge higher rates when they do provide credit," officials explained.

"The average APR on a non-luxury loan has been above 6.9 percent in each of the past three weeks, more than a 0.33 point higher than the average earlier in the year, which has pushed up the average monthly payment," PIN reported.

Additionally, the company indicated that the mix of upside-down trades, the average loan term and the percent of finance transactions using captive finance sources have remained steady.

"Overall, there has been a slowdown in the normal trading cycle, and the credit crunch has most likely been one of the contributors to this trend," executives highlighted.

"The average age of a trade-in has jumped more than six months in the past eight weeks, indicating that owners of newer vehicles are not trading them in at the pace they had earlier in the year," they concluded.

PIN identified some specific statistics:

January through July 2008:

Total down: $4,946

Total down as a percentage: 17.5 percent

Percent financed: 82.5 percent

Loan-to-cost: 99 percent

APR: 6.6 percent

Monthly payment: $438

Percentage of negative equity: 36 percent

Term: 64

Captive percentage: 57.8 percent

Trade-in vehicle age: 5.7


Week of Sept. 28:

Total down: $5,915

Total down as a percentage: 20 percent

Percent financed: 80 percent

Loan-to-cost: 95 percent

APR: 6.9 percent

Monthly payment: $441

Percentage of negative equity: 33.6 percent

Term: 64

Captive: 56.5 percent

Trade-in vehicle age: 6.3

Cash Transactions Jump

In other recent news, PIN said that the number of cash transactions for vehicle have climbed to its highest level in three years.

"The stampede of cash transactions shows up clearly in the changing mix of non-luxury new-vehicle transactions," officials related. "In the last week of September, 31 percent of all non-luxury sales were cash transactions, the highest cash mix since the week ending Sept. 15, 2005."

"The recent end-of-September cash mix was also up more than 4 percentage points from the beginning of August this year and more than 6 percentage points from the January to July average," the company highlighted.

Apparently, the mix of finance transactions, which was up following the January to July time frame thanks to the drop in leasing, declined to below 60 percent at the end of September. Officials said this is the first time this has occurred over the past eight weeks.

"Leasing has accounted for less than one of every 10 non-luxury transactions in each of the past five weeks after averaging more than 16 percent for the first seven months of the year," executives concluded.