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Home / Technology / America's obsession with trucks and SUVs is helping push car loan payments to a 10-year high

America's obsession with trucks and SUVs is helping push car loan payments to a 10-year high



 car Bill Pugliano / Getty Images
  • The average car loan right here at a decade high
  • It's a result of Americans' renewed zeal for trucks and SUVs.
  • But the keenness for big cars ̵
    1; and the ease with which lenders have issued loans to even high-risk recipients – has boosted loan delinquencies to record highs.

The average car loan just hit a decade high, according to Experian data first reported by Automotive News .

In 4Q18, the average new car loan in the US was $ 545 per month and $ 387 per month on average for a used vehicle. The average interest rate was 6.3%, also a decade high, according to Edmunds.

One driver of that is the ever-increasing American interest in SUVs, trucks, and crossovers, Edmunds manager of industry analysis Jeremy Acevedo said.

Read more: The US government is cautioning Americans that they visit Jamaica could be at risk of sexual assault and homicide

"Right now, one of the driving factors behind that is that Americans (are making) a massive shift to SUVs and trucks, "Acevedo customs Business Insider. "It's driven up to unprecedented levels, so much so that today's average vehicle price is up to $ 36,000."

Americans have been buying more and more big cars. In the early 2010s, as Bloomberg reported, trucks and SUVs started to take over small and medium-sized car sales. Experts now forecast that, by 2022, under 35% of new cars will be passenger vehicles and more than 65% will be trucks and SUVs.

LMC Automotive estimated that, by 2022, 84% of General Motors vehicles sold in the US will be a truck or SUV, CNBC reported. For Fiat Chrysler, that ratio will be 97% and 90% for Ford.

The dark side of America's big car obsession

Middle-class Americans can't easily afford trendy big cars. Take the Ford F-Series – it's America's top-selling car, but its starting price of $ 28,000 doesn't make it as affordable as, say, a $ 14,000 Ford Fiesta. The average American household has less than $ 9,000 in savings, and almost a quarter can not cover their living expenses from their emergency savings accounts.

As a result, Acevedo said automakers have increased lease terms to stretch the length over which car payments are made. "To fit (big cars) into people ' s budgets, we've seen automakers really do whatever they can make this pill that shoppers can swallow," Acevedo said.

And, keen on These companies have been offering loans to just about anyone – even those with credit scores below 600. As Business Insider's Frank Chaparro reported in 2017:

According to data from Experian, the balance of deep subprime loans – those given to people with credit scores of 300 to 500 – increased 14.6% from 2015 to 2016.

Subprime loans – those given to people with credit scores in the range of 501 to 600 – increased by 8.6%. This is higher than the growth of prime loans, which witnessed 6.2% growth.

But that zeal to give loans to non-ideal candidates is starting to show its downsides. Last month, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported more than seven million Americans at least 90 days behind on their auto loan payments – a record number. And, according to Morgan Stanley, the 30-day delinquency rate for Capital One's auto finance operations has posted year-over-year increases through January 2019 for 18 consecutive months.

For that reason, Morgan Stanley's auto analyst team customs investors to "Tread Carefully" when

it comes to auto stocks in a March 8 note.

"The auto credit party may not be over yet, but the lights are starting to flicker," they wrote.

"In that post-recession car market, access to credit is really the biggest facilitating factor," Acevedo said. "It's been a little farther down the market than we've seen in the past, but really it's just a story of sheer volume, of people getting sustained low rates for a long time and doing so they bought expensive vehicles. "


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