New Car Prices and Payments Set Records

Experian Automotive announced that the average amount financed and the average monthly payment for a new vehicle continued to climb, breaking the previous records on file. According to its latest State of the Automotive Finance Market report, the average amount financed for a new vehicle in Q4 2015 was $29,551, up $1,170 from Q4 last year, and the average monthly payment rose to $493, up from $482 in the same time period.

“People shop for vehicles largely based on monthly price, and right now, average dollar amounts for new vehicle loans are soaring,” said Melinda Zabritski, senior director of automotive credit for Experian Automotive. “In order to stay within their budget goals, we have seen that more consumers — even those within the prime and super-prime risk categories — are turning to leasing and used vehicles as cost-effective alternatives to buying new.”

Findings from the report show that the average lease payment for Q4 2015 was $412 (versus the average loan payment of $493). Not surprisingly, due to the significant monthly savings, leasing reached another record high of 33.6 percent of all new financing during the quarter.

Used vehicle loans made up 62.8 percent of all vehicle financing, and the average amount financed for a used vehicle during the quarter was $18,850. Additionally, the average monthly payment for a used vehicle was $359, bringing the gap between new and used vehicle monthly payments to an all-time high of $134 in Q4 2015.

How are credit scores changing?

“Over the course of the last few years, we have seen the market stabilizing nicely,” continued Zabritski. “Credit scores are flattening out for new vehicle financing and more prime consumers are shifting to used, which is helping increase the average score there as well.”

Overall, the report shows that average credit scores across the board have flattened in the past few years. The average credit score for a new vehicle loan was 711, down from 712 in Q4 2014. Average credit scores for new vehicles peaked at 736 in 2009, then dropped 25 points from Q4 2009 to Q4 2015 as the market recovered from the recession. However, in the past six years, average credit scores for new vehicle loans have dropped by only four points each year.

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For used vehicles, average credit scores were up by one point to 649. Used vehicle scores also have been relatively flat over the past years — in 2009, the average was 657.

Other findings:

  • Reliance on financing continues to grow — 85.9 percent of all new vehicles and 54.7 percent of all used vehicles sold during Q4 2015 were financed
  • The top five models leased were the Honda Civic, the Honda Accord, the Toyota Camry, the Toyota RAV4 and the Ford Escape
  • The Ford Fusion and the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 had substantial gains in leasing in Q4 2015, rising 22 percent and 38 percent, respectively
  • The average interest rate for a new vehicle loan was 4.63 percent, while the average interest rate for a used vehicle loan reached 8.78 percent
  • Average loan terms for new and used vehicles held steady at 67 months and 63 months, respectively
  • Longer-term loans (those extending 73 to 84 months) for new vehicles grew by 12 percent, reaching 29 percent, while longer-term used vehicle loans grew 10.8 percent, reaching 16.4 percent
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