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Experian: Q2 Auto Finance Data Doesn’t Support Subprime Bubble Talk

September 6, 2016

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. — The auto finance industry continues to squash fears of an impending subprime auto finance bubble, with the Experian’s latest State of the Automotive Finance Market report showing that finance sources made more than five times as many loan to superprime customers (17.9% of total auto loans and leases) than deep-subprime customers (3.5 percent of total auto loans and leases).

According to the report, both 30- and 60-day loan delinquencies were up slightly. However, the combined subprime and deep-subprime share of new and used auto loans and leases dropped from 23.3% from the year-ago period to 22.8%.

“Automotive lenders seem to be keeping cool heads when it comes to how much risk they are willing to take with subprime and deep-subprime customers,” said Melinda Zabritski, senior director of automotive finance for Experian. “Yes, subprime and deep-subprime loans are growing, but the entire market is growing from a volume perspective across all risk tiers. In fact, the subprime loans have actually dropped as a percentage of the total market. That, combined with only a slight uptick in delinquencies, makes clear that the sky is not falling.”

Thirty-day delinquencies increased from 2.19% in the year-ago quarter to 2.22%, while 60-day delinquencies rose from 0.56% to 0.62% during the same time period.

Leasing and used-vehicle sales continued to gain momentum during the quarter, with leasing’s share of new-vehicle sales jumped from 26.92% in the year-ago period to a record high of 31.44%. Even used-vehicle leasing, which accounts for a small slice of the lease market, experienced growth. It grew from a 3.26% share in the prior-year period to 3.71%.

Used-vehicle financing also grew to record levels in terms of average dollar amount and overall loan share during the quarter. The average used-vehicle loan reached an all-time high of $19,101, up from $18,671 in the prior-year period. As for its overall loan share, used-vehicle loans accounted for a record 55.61% of all vehicle loans during the second quarter.

The growth was driven by an increase in the number of prime and superprime consumers choosing used vehicles. Specifically, 43.3% of superprime consumers selected a used vehicle, a 1`0% increase over 2015. For prime consumers, 59.9% chose used, a 6.6% increase over the previous year. This shift also helped push the average credit score for a used-vehicle loan from 645 in the year-ago period to 648.

“One of the biggest trends we continue to see is the shift to used vehicles by customers with excellent credit,” Zabritski said. “As vehicle prices continue to rise, savvy consumers are looking for ways to control costs. That appears to be pushing more customers toward used vehicles.”

Here are other findings from the second quarter:

  • The average monthly payment for a used vehicle was $364, up from $361 in the second quarter of 2015.
  • The average monthly payment for a new vehicle loan increased from $483 in the year-ago period to $499.
  • The average new vehicle loan amount was $29,880, up $1,356 from the year-ago period.
  • Average customer credit scores for new-vehicle loans inched down from 708 in the year-ago quarter to 708.
  • The average loan term for a new vehicle increased from 67 months in the prior-year period to 68 months.

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