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Subprime Financing Begins to Level Off, Experian Says

September 3, 2014

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. — The percentage of new-vehicle loans made to subprime and deep subprime borrowers began to level off in the second quarter of 2014, according to a new report from Experian Automotive.

The percentage of new-vehicle loans made to consumers in the subprime and deep subprime tiers was at 15.1% in the second quarter of 2014, down from 22.1% in the same period in 2013. While up from the 10.2% low at the peak of the recession in 2009, the current figures are still well below the prerecession level highs of 16.6% in second quarter 2008 and 19.9% in second quarter 2007, according to Experian Automotive.

Similarly, the percentage of used-vehicle loans extended to the subprime and deep subprime segments in the quarter was 40.2%, down from 50.6% in second quarter 2013. Again, the figures are up slightly from the 39% seen in second quarter 2009, but still below the prerecession levels in 2008 and 2007 of 43.4% and 46.6%, respectively.

“Although we’ve seen relative stability in the automotive industry the past several years, lenders are still showing cautionary signs when lending to the subprime market and keeping their risk at manageable levels,” said Melinda Zabritski, senior director of automotive finance for Experian. “As for consumers, as long as those in these higher risk segments continue to pay their bills on time, keep delinquent balances in check and select a vehicle that fits within their budget, they should still be able to obtain the necessary financing to purchase a vehicle that meets their needs.”

Additionally, the average loan amounts extended to subprime and deep subprime consumers also fell in second quarter 2014. The average new-vehicle loan amount to a subprime borrower dropped to $27,347 in second quarter 2014 from $27,563 in the same period 2013, and new loans to deep subprime borrowers fell to $24,836 in second quarter 2014 from $25,486 in second quarter 2013. For used vehicles, the average subprime borrower loan fell to $16,546 in 2014’s second quarter from $17,020 in 2013. Used deep subprime loans fell to $14,358 from $15,113 in second quarter 2013.

Findings from the report also showed that the average loan amount and monthly payment for a used vehicle reached an all-time high in the second quarter. The average used-vehicle loan was $18,258 in quarter two of 2014, up $345 from the previous year. Similarly, the average monthly payment for a loan written on a used vehicle was $355 in second quarter 2014, up $4 from second quarter 2013.

“Used-vehicle financing has experienced consistent growth over the last several years,” Zabritski continued. “As we continue to see the price of vehicles reach new heights, more and more consumers, especially those that are credit challenged, are turning to the used-vehicle market as a viable option to purchase their next car.”

As for new vehicles, the report showed that the average amount financed rose in second quarter 2014 to $27,429 from $26,526 in second quarter 2013. The average monthly payment for a new vehicle, also increased $10 to $467 in second quarter 2014.

The report also noted that of all new vehicles sold in the second quarter of 2014, leases accounted for a record high 25.6%, up from 23.4% the previous year. Meanwhile, the interest rate for a new vehicle was up from 4.46% in second quarter 2013 to 4.59% in 2014, while used vehicle interest rates were up from 8.56% in second quarter 2013 to 8.82% in second quarter 2014.

Also according to the report, the average credit score for a new-vehicle loan in second quarter 2014 was 711, up from 699 a year earlier. And the average credit score for a new-vehicle lease rose to 717 in second quarter 2014 from 706 in second quarter 2013.

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