The Consumer Bankers Association's 2002 Automobile Finance Study shows a shift from leasing to loans. While some measures show a decline in average vehicle prices, the average new loan size increased from $19,705 to $20,656, about a 5-percent jump. Loan maturities increased, and 82 percent of new vehicle loans were over four years. Year-to-year growth was measured for 11 of 41 survey respondents, who reported a growth in loan origination dollars of 22.4 percent, com-pared to 8.3 percent in 2001. Four of the 11 were captive finance companies, so growth likely reflects heavy use of financing incentives. Automated loan decisions increased from 18 percent to 26 percent of all application decisions, which speeded turnaround time. The survey measures activity at year-end 2001, and is prepared for CBA by BenchMark Consulting International, Marietta, GA. For the first time, average credit bureau scores were slightly higher for used-vehicle loans, at 692, compared to new vehicle loans, 680. Lessors became more conservative in setting residual values, reflecting continued heavy losses. Lease terms are based on the estimated residual value of the vehicle at lease-end, as estimated in guidebooks. Last year, 38 percent of new leases were below guidebook values, compared to 3 percent a year earlier. However, losses remained high as leases expired. For full term vehicles returned to lessors, the average loss increased to $2,451, from $2,342 a year earlier and $1,920 two years ago. Longer term leases are becoming more popular, with leases of five years or longer growing to 28% from 17% a year earlier and 12% two years ago. Copies of the study are available at $300 for CBA members and $495 for non-members.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials