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Subprime Loans Are Working Well for Auto Lenders

September 6, 2016

A car dealership in Peoria, Illinois.A car dealership in Peoria, Illinois.
A car dealership in Peoria, Illinois.Photograph by Daniel Acker—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Subprime lending has not significantly hurt the health of U.S. automotive lending “which has continued to show steady growth and remarkable stability,” Experian Automotive said on Tuesday in its second-quarter report.

The amount of the average loan for a new vehicle was only a few dollars short of $30,000, and the average monthly payment just a dollar shy of $500, Experian said.

Thirty-day delinquencies rose slightly to 2.22% of all vehicle loans, from 2.19% a year earlier.

The combined share of subprime and deep-subprime lending in the automotive credit market for new and used vehicles fell to 22.8% from 23.3%, from a year earlier, Experian said.


“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.”

Longer loans are helping consumers manage payments, and low interest rates have helped U.S. auto sales rise about two-thirds since the 2008-2009 recession.

The length of an average new vehicle loan rose to 68 months in the quarter, from 67 months a year earlier. The average monthly payment for a new-vehicle loan rose to $499 from $483 a year ago, Experian said.

Leasing took a larger share of the new-vehicle market, to 31.4% from 27% a year earlier, Experian said, and the average monthly payment for a lease of a new vehicle rose to $404 from $394 a year ago, Experian said.

The amount of the average new-vehicle loan rose 4.8% to $29,880, Experian said.