How would you describe these first few months of 2021? According to CUNA’s Monthly Credit Union Estimates, credit union loan growth continued to slow in January, including further erosion in new car lending. Total car loans nearly flattened at $381.7 billion, just 0.2 percent greater than a year earlier. New auto loans fell 5.8 percent to $140.3 billion, while used auto loans rose 4.1 percent to $241.4 billion. Though captives have gained shares in used cars, both banks and credit unions have been losing shares to captive lenders in the new car loan market.
However, there are positive signals on the horizon that bode well for auto lenders. Vaccine distribution is rolling out and COVID-19 cases are trending down across much of the country. A third stimulus package will deliver checks to millions of low-to-middle income Americans and income tax refunds should start rolling out in coming months. With consumer confidence trending upward and unemployment numbers dropping, pent-up consumer demand for vehicles could drive customers to the dealership. However, much has changed for many consumers and their credit position. Auto lenders – especially credit unions – have an opportunity to boost their loan portfolio if they stick to one tried-and-true tactic. Always: put the member first.