Younger buyers and subprime consumers are expected to drive auto sales in 2014, though some banks are already stepping off the accelerator with auto loans due to heavier competition and a desire to protect their margins.
Sales in 2014 are predicted to hit 16.2 million according to J.D. Power & Associates, with millennial buyers and subprime buyers contributing 3.3 million and 2.1 million units, respectively. Both surges in these categories are welcome with automakers, especially younger consumers who would love to be in a car were it not for the Great Recession keeping their wallets at bay.
The growth in sales comes against rising auto prices, which are expected to average $29,700 in 2014. One result: long-term financing in the form financing options that can be amortized over 100 months.
Those seeking loans for their new or used vehicle may need to shop around for financing, however, as some banks — such as Huntington and BB&T — are more interested in protecting their margins than chasing after more market share.
Among the big winners in Q4 2013, Wells Fargo originated $6.8 billion in auto loans, followed by Chase with $6.4 billion, and Capital One with $4.3 billion. Wells Fargo is the industry leader in used-car financing, but does well with new-car loans, as well, particularly in their relationship with General Motors.
A lot of the success comes from tightened lending standards that came as a result of the Great Recession, bringing a number of banks into the low-risk lending party. As economic conditions return to the surface, however, some banks are opting out of expansion into murkier waters for the time being as others cast their nets into the unknown, bringing gradual increases in credit losses as underwriting standards are relaxed to attract more subprime customers and younger buyers.