Business Growth

2023 – Managing the Tipping Point

Credit unions have an extra reason to celebrate over the holiday and new year season. According to the third quarter State of Automotive Finance Market Report from Experian, credit unions now account for the majority of the auto loan market share. Whether they keep these gains in 2023 is yet to be seen. While Federal Reserve prime rate increases do not directly translate to increases in auto loan rates, there are some notable ripple effects that auto lenders are watching. Fluctuations in new and used car prices, higher down payments, longer loan terms, increased defaults, and loan-to-value ratios will all factor into the mix next year. We look forward to collaborating with our credit union lending partners and keeping the scales on an even keel.

GAP for some

Keeping a close eye on the loan-to-value ratio on every deal will be key for lenders in 2023. We encourage our lending partners to offer GAP on those deals with lower down payments and a higher risk of default if the vehicle is deemed undriveable and insurance coverage does not cover the replacement value. For some customers, having GAP coverage in addition to a vehicle service contract can mean the difference between a major tip of the scale or a manageable event.

Reaching the limit

Higher monthly payments and longer payment terms are becoming more common place as the price of both new and used vehicles continue to rise. While some buyers might focus only on the short term, auto lenders who look across their total portfolio might see signs of caution. Even credit union members who are considered prime can run into difficulty in uncertain economic times. Debt protection products such as WALKAWAY® can provide some counterweights to keep the scale in balance and protect positive revenue in 2023.


Economic Indicators Aid Forecasting

As we move through the second half of 2021, there are some economic indicators which should be considered when developing strategies for an auto lending portfolio in 2022.

According to Bankrate data as of June 30, 2021, the U.S. average rate for a 60-month new auto loan started the year at 4.24 percent and has dropped to 4.18 percent.  Similarly, rates on a 36-month used vehicle loan began at 4.53 percent and declined to 4.49 percent. The Federal Reserve has also signaled that it intends to keep interest rates low for the remainder of 2021 – and possibly into 2022.

Unemployment and growing debt are also important economic indicators to watch. According to Experian, the average annual percentage rates (APRs) on used and new car loans were 21.07 percent and 14.66 percent, respectively, for individuals with credit scores between 300 and 500. That compares with used and new car loan APRs of 3.71 percent and 2.41 percent, respectively, for those with top-tier scores between 781 and 850.


Opportunity for Credit Unions Ahead?

It can be challenging to think strategically when each day brings a new challenge, a new directive, a new mandate, or a new situation impacting your business and the community. The second quarter was a tale of two cities for credit unions. April reflected a precipitous drop in most aspects of the automotive and financial markets, thanks to shelter-in-place mandates and the pandemic sweeping across the country. But May and June told a slightly different – and somewhat better – story. Light vehicle sales were only down 24 percent in June as compared to 2019, year over year. While in a normal year, dealers and lenders would decry that number, this year there was a round of huzzahs! That’s just the world we live in these days.

Credit unions started the year on an upward trend for automotive lending. Average loan amounts continue to increase according to the latest Experian State of Auto Finance Report. In the first quarter, new vehicle loan amounts averaged $33,739, and used vehicle loans totaled $20,723 on average. Buyers also increased vehicle payments, with the average new vehicle payment jumping to $569.

After leveling off through much of May and June, financing rates dropped to their lowest level of the year for the week of July 15 to 4.24 percent, a decrease of 0.09 percent from the week prior. Rates held steady for the week of July 22, but were down 0.36 percent since the beginning of the year and down 0.49 percent from 2019 numbers.