Dealerships and salespeople alike have reaped the benefits of healthy profit margins over the last few years. However, just as the margin pendulum swung deep into seller’s market territory, it’s beginning its backward trajectory into a buyer’s market.
While inflation and lack of inventory have kept vehicle prices high. Interest rates, climbing debt, and lack of affordable vehicles are pressuring more consumers out of the market. According to Experian, during the first quarter of 2023 the average APR for prime consumers fell between 6.40 percent for new vehicles and 8.75 percent for used vehicles. Think about that for a second. If a prime consumer can’t get a rate below 5 percent, what does that mean for nonprime and subprime consumers?
As of 2021, Experian reported that nearly one in three Americans had a subprime credit score. So approximately 33 percent of your customers don’t qualify for an 8.75 percent APR. Their range spans from 8.86 percent to 21.32 percent. On top of the APR issue is rising debt. Because consumers purchased both new and pre-owned vehicles priced well above historical norms for the last three years, those three-year-old consumers are returning to dealerships with significantly less of their auto loan paid off. According to Edmunds’ fourth quarter data from 2022: