Dodge. Nissan. Kia. Mitsubishi. Ever wonder how any cars from these makes end up getting sold?
While there are certainly cars from these brands that attract the higher end of the automotive consumer marketplace (Hellcat, anyone?), the vast majority of the customers who end up in a car from one of these brands are in them for one reason, and one reason alone: they’ve got subprime credit. And they’re not alone.
In fact, over half of the American public now has subprime credit, and there’s no sign that it’s getting better any time soon. As a result, most customers are just walking into a dealership hoping to be approved for a loan. Instead of being in a position of power when it comes to negotiation, they’re in a position of weakness.
For dealers, this is great news. For consumers, it’s awful.
Wells Fargo will rein in its subprime lending business, limiting subprime car loans to 10 percent of auto loans it originates. According to the New York Times, the move comes amid concerns that the market for subprime car loans is expanding too quickly.
The topic of subprime auto loans has been a hotly contested one at TTAC, with numerous commenters defending both the practice and the stability of recent run-up in subprime lending.
New technology is allowing buyers with no credit score – due to a lack of credit history or a personal bankruptcy – to get vehicle financing via examination of documents like the payment history of their cable or cell phone bill.
According to Moody’s Investors Service, increased competition for issuing auto loans will result in lenders taking greater risks and lowering underwriting standards. “Auto lenders will continue their return to higher levels of risk-taking, a trend that emerged in 2013 and will gain momentum in the coming year,” Moody’s analysts Jeffrey Hibbs, Mack Caldwell and William Black wrote in a report published Monday. Greater competition between lenders will result in “ever-more generous loan terms,” they said.
As the economy has slowly improved, losses on vehicle debt are down across the board, regardless of creditworthiness, compared to historic norms. That fact and continued low interest rates are attracting lenders into the car loan market. (Read More…)
Subprime borrowers have accounted for more than 27% of new car and light truck loans this year, the highest level since 2007, according to Bloomberg. A year ago, a buyer with a credit ranking in the bottom percentile would not likely have been able to buy a car. This year people with credit stores as low as 500 or lower have qualified for loans.
After the Federal Reserve has kept interest rates near zero for five years now, the subprime car loan market is now being described as “frothy”. With interest rates so low, investors are willing to purchase the riskier bonds that back subprime car loans in pursuit of higher returns. A number of financial companies have entered that market. Citigroup reports that 13 loan backers have accessed the asset-backed market to fund subprime auto loans this year. (Read More…)
According to a report issued last week by the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of New York, car and light truck loan originations have reached a six-year high. Automotive News reports that for the second quarter of 2013, new loans went up 11% to $91.8 billion, including consumers with all credit ratings. U.S. light vehicle sales were up 9% for the quarter from last year.
The Fed said that the biggest year to year change was in the 621-660 credit score range, just below “prime” rankings. That tranche rose 16% to $12.1 billion. Loans to those with worse credit, a score below 620, were up ~11% from 2012 to $21.2 billion.