But automakers aren't complaining.
Last month we reported that seven million Americans were 90 days or more behind on car payments. A new report from Automotive News and Edmunds sheds light as to why. Turns out there's been a shortage of low or no interest rate deals for new vehicles. As a result, this has increased the average loan interest to a 10-year high.
But instead of buying or even leasing somewhat more affordable compact or mid-size cars, Americans today want pickup trucks and SUVs. Automakers noticed. When there's demand the price goes up. Opting for those types of vehicles only increases payments because they're typically more expensive to begin with.
Edmunds further analyzed sales data from last month and determined that new-vehicle financing reached 6.3%, the highest since February 2009. Not only is that a 10-year high, it's also an increase of more than 1 percentage point from only a year ago. Buyers are also getting hit hard by interest rates. For example, only 18% of new car customers managed to receive an interest rate below 3% last month.
A year ago, nearly 25% managed to do so. Because of rising vehicle costs and interest rates, many hopeful buyers are simply being priced out of the new-vehicle market. But that's still not stopping them from buying their preferred choice of vehicles, trucks and SUVs. To help lower their monthly payments and negotiate better interest rates, shoppers are willing to spend more on down payments.
According to Edmunds, the average down payment is now $4,187. The average amount financed hit $32,071 last month, an increase of 2.4% from February 2018. But the average transaction price for a new vehicle was $36,331, a 4% increase. To help Americans better afford the cars or rather the trucks and SUVs they want, automakers are increasing the lease terms, often times to 72 months, or six years.
Lenders are also willing to provide loans to those who shouldn't have them, like people with credit scores below 600. Sound familiar? Instead of subprime home loans, these are subprime auto loans. The desire to drive trendy trucks and SUVs is pushing more and more Americans into financial hardship.