Q2 subprime originations soften to all-time low


Well, here comes another automotive industry statistic establishing an all-time reading during the coronavirus pandemic.

Findings from Experian’s Q2 2020 State of the Automotive Finance Market report release on Thursday morning indicated that the amount of financing originated during the second quarter that fell into subprime represented an all-time low. Analysts determined just 22.18% of the total financing booked in Q2 were subprime or deep subprime.

Experian classifies subprime and deep subprime as individuals with credit scores of 600 and lower.

At the midpoint of last year, Experian reported subprime and deep subprime financing constituted 23.41% originated during Q2. The recent high in the report’s data set going back eight years came in Q2 2013 when 28.32% of all financing was classified in the lowest credit tiers.

Experian also discovered that the overall amount of financing coming through the industry pipeline declined during the second quarter, reflecting the significant slowdown in retail vehicle transactions when stay-at-home orders arrived this spring.

Analysts determined the percentage of new vehicles with financing dropped from 87.62% in Q2 2019 to 85.54% in Q2 2020, while the percentage of used vehicles with financing decreased from 40.33% to 36.75% over the same period.

However, Experian emphasized that much of the overall decrease can be attributed to the early months of the pandemic. Analysts pointed out that in April their information showed new-vehicle sales fell 50.8% year-over-year, while used vehicle sales plummeted 54.0%.

In June, Experian highlighted that new- and used-vehicle sales rebounded as its data noted that new-vehicle sales were off only 10.6%, while used-vehicle sales actually increased by 0.2% compared to 2019.

“COVID-19 has impacted the industry, but the data shows manufacturers, dealers and lenders have adjusted to the current landscape,” Experian senior director of automotive financial solutions Melinda Zabritski said in a news release.

“For example, manufacturer incentives have helped new-car sales rebound over the past few months,” Zabritski continued. “The more the industry can stay on top of the trends, the better positioned they will be to continue to boost sales and navigate the recovery.”

With the option for consumers to take advantage of manufacturer incentives, Zabritski noted that she’s seen consumers with strong credit shift back into the new-vehicle market, reversing a trend she and her team have observed over the past several quarters.

Experian indicated prime and super-prime consumers made up 74.96% of new-vehicle financing in Q2 2020, up from 71.89% in Q2 2019. The report also showed that captives made up the largest share of new-vehicle financing (31.1%), up from 28.6% in Q2 2019.

Meanwhile, finance companies are absorbing more risk in order to keep payments manageable for their customers.

Experian found that the average amount financed for a new vehicle reached $36,072 in Q2, an increase of nearly $4,000 from a year ago. Analysts explained much of the increase appears to be driven by a shift in consumer preference.

During the quarter, Experian discovered full-size pickups became the most popular vehicle segment, making up 16.09%, followed closely by small SUVs at 14.33%.

“These vehicles tend to be more expensive,” Experian said while adding that the average amount financed for a full-size pickup in Q2 was $46,502.

Analysts pointed out the increase in the average amount financed for a used vehicle was much smaller, rising $760 from a year ago to reach $20,916.

Despite the increases in the average amount financed, Experian noticed the average monthly payments remained fairly steady.

Analysts indicated the average monthly payment for a new vehicle was $568, an increase of $18 from the previous year, while the average monthly payment for a used vehicle increased $5, bringing it to $397.

The limited increase in average monthly payment is likely attributed to the increase in the average term. For a new vehicle, the average came in at 71.54 months, up from 69.17 months in Q2 2019, while the average term for a used vehicle ticked up to 65.30 months from 64.82 months spotted in Q2 of last year.

Experian said that it’s important to note that the percentage of new-car contracts with terms between 85 and 96 months increased from 1.3% in Q2 2019 to 4.8% in Q2 of this year —with many of these deals extended to consumers with prime credit scores at 720 and higher.

In addition, analysts noticed that average interest rates for new vehicles decreased from 6.27% in Q2 2019 to 5.15% in Q2 2020. Similarly, average interest rates for used vehicles softened from 10.07% to 9.69% during the same time period.

“With vehicle loans becoming more expensive, we’ve seen lenders and consumers find ways to make monthly payments more affordable — relying on lower interest rates and extending loan terms,” Zabritski said.

“Lenders need to minimize risk and find finance options that meet the needs of car shoppers. Ensuring loans are affordable and fit within the consumers’ budgets will be a priority,” she went on to say.

A few other findings for Q2 from Experian included:

— Leasing saw a decrease year-over-year, making up 25.81% of new vehicles in Q2 2020, compared to 32.03% in Q2 2019.

— Hondas are the most commonly leased vehicle at 13.55% of the market.

The average credit score for new-vehicle financing increased four points year-over-year from 717 in Q2 2019 to 721 in Q2 2020. The average score for used-vehicle inched one point higher from 656 to 657.

To watch a webinar when Zabritski goes into more detail about the Q2 2020 State of the Automotive Finance Market report, register on this website.

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