Category Archives: Industry News

Auto Finance Industry News and Updates

Auto loan Delinquencies up by 21.2% (from 2nd QTR year-earlier)

Yesterday, in an article published by the Detroit News, business and marketing research firm Experian Automotive released data that shows auto loans that are 60 days past due rose by 21.2 percent in the second quarter from year-earlier levels.

In the second quarter, 0.80 percent of car loans were 60 to 89 days past due, up from 0.66 percent during the same period in 2008.  Thirty-day delinquencies rose 14.6 percent in the second quarter to 3.06 percent, up from 2.67 percent the previous year.   Combined, 30- and 60-day delinquencies amount to $25.5 billion in loans at risk.

Why is this significant?  That’s because it prompts lenders to tighten their lending criteria.  The result is that it pushes many consumers out of the market altogether.  Sure some buy used but many just drop the purchase to wait out the strict requirements being applied.

Michigan was among only three states to show a reduction in 30-day delinquencies, according to the study’s findings. The other two were Alaska and Nebraska.

At some point the lending markets has to turn so that pent-up demand eases.  However, for right now, it’s a tough market and consumers are not getting much of a break on the cost of financing, that is unless you’ve got a high credit score.  In the meantime, we all wait.

For the balance of the year SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) figures will probably close the year out at just under 10 million per month annualized.  Next year by February, we should see things starting to break free.  Let’s hope that prediction holds!

The Ongoing Mysteries of the Clunkers Program

In an article distributed by Auto Remarketing, written by Group Editor J. Reed, it recapped’s analysis of the just concluded “Cash for Clunkers” program statistics provided by the DOT. Why is this important?  As hard as we try to trust our leaders and rely somewhat upon what they say to be true, huge discrepancies keep coming out about what really just happened to the citizenry of the U.S.  It does not make me feel warm and fuzzy, that’s for sure.

So what are some of the discrepancies? Edmunds pointed out what it sees as inconsistencies with the government’s Clunkers statistics. One of the reasons the company delved into these figures is because it says there was an unprecedented wide range in analysts’ sales forecasts, with analysts’ forecasts for the month annualized sales rate at an unprecedented 4 million range. Stands to reason that someone would want to true up the numbers, right?

One of the “mysteries,” as the company calls it, is that the government release said the program took 690,114 clunkers off the road. However, apparently Edmund’s experts tracking the program found that clunker trade-ins never accounted for more than 33.4% of weekly sales. “It is mathematically impossible for there to have been nearly 700,000 new-car sales during the course of the program, given the actual sales numbers announced by automakers who should have no motive to under-report,” said Zhenwei Zhou, senior statistician.

But now that the numbers are in some of the numbers do not add up.  Apparently, one of the difficulties in forecasting the sales number was due to the midstream change in the Clunkes program, or the fact that the program’s administrators changed the rules allowing dealers to take clunker trades on vehicles that were in transit or on order. “As a result, we’re still seeing clunker deals trickle in and are yet to be counted as sales,” noted David Tompkins, senior analyst. “We expect that to continue for a few weeks. We expect about 50,000 vehicles will be delivered and counted as clunker sales in September’s sales reports.”

Michelle Krebs, Edmond’s senior analyst noted that the Department of Transportation reported on Aug. 26 that it had received 690,114 Cash for Clunker voucher applications for either $3,500 or $4,500.  As of Sept. 2, she said DOT had not changed that figure.  However, the governments own data doesn’t add up. In its Aug. 26 press release giving the supposed final tally for the program, the DOT gives the total application voucher as well as a breakout of the number of vehicles purchased by category and the number of vehicles traded in by category.

None of these numbers are the same. The overall application number of 690,114 is different from the number of clunkers the government said were turned in under the program — 685,201 — which, in turn, is different form the number of vehicles purchased — 684,941. While the differences are not huge or enough to impact forecasting, they should match. Presumably, the number of clunkers turned in and the number of vehicles purchased should be identical, which should add up to the number of applications.

So why does the clunkers number matter? From an economic standpoint, how many of the clunker trades resulted in sales that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise? Or did it merely pull from behind and pull from future naturally occurring sales. If it did produce incrementally higher sales, what was the cost per vehicle to shareholders? Even more important, sorting Cash for Clunkers data is important for forecasting going forward. Analysts, including those at, auto companies and other forecasting firms, are trying to determine, what is the true underlying demand for vehicles by retail customers, excluding the clunkers program, and what is the trajectory of vehicles going forward.

What do you think are the government’s data  Credible or not?  How can you believe in anything we are being told?  Too many questions and not any answers.  Tell us what you think.

Statistics from DOT on Clunkers Program

With the passing of the ‘Clunkers’ program, there is plenty of speculation remaining as to whether or not the program was successful.  That sort of depends upon where you are viewing it I suppose, but no doubt, some good things did happen.  Putting cash in the hands of consumers via the rebate clearly sparked some of that cautionary demand to take action.  One view might be to take a look at the U. S. Department of Transportation statistics.  I won’t go in to all of them so here are a few highlights.

“American consumers and workers were the clear winners thanks to Cash for Clunkers program,” said Ray LaHood, U.S. transportation secretary. “Manufacturing plants have added shifts and recalled workers. Moribund (or bare) showrooms were brought back to life and consumers bought fuel-efficient cars that will save them money and improve the environment.”

Overall, rebate applications worth $2.877 billion were submitted by the Tuesday deadline. This covered 690,114 applications.

Top 10 Most Purchased Autos
Of the top 10 most purchased vehicles under the Cash for Clunkers program, only five automakers made the cut. This includes Toyota, Honda, Ford, Hyundai and Nissan. Toyota and Honda each had three models make the most purchased list, while Ford was close behind with two. Nissan and Hyundai meanwhile each had one model making the most popular Cash for Clunkers purchases.

Top Most Traded In Autos
The Ford Explorer 4WD and the Ford F-150 Pickup 2WD were the significant leaders in what was traded in.  Of the vehicles traded-in, 84 percent were trucks with 59 percent of customers purchasing passenger cars. The average trade-in mileage was 15.8 mpg, which leads to an overall increase of 9.2 mpg, or 58 percent climb, as the average new vehicle purchased receives 24.9 mpg.

Offering preliminary insight into the impact of the Clunkers program will have on the economy, the White House Council of Economic Advisers predicted the program will ramp up economic growth in the third quarter by about 0.3 to 0.4 percent at an annual rate due to the sales. The gross domestic product will be sustained thanks to increased vehicle production and to fulfill inventory requirements, the group indicated. Furthermore, an excepted 42,000 jobs will be created or saved.

New-Vehicle Manufacturer Percentages:
Toyota: 19.4 percent
General Motors: 17.6 percent
Ford: 14.4 percent
Honda: 13 percent
Nissan: 8.7 percent
Hyundai: 7.2 percent
Chrysler: 6.6 percent

There is, as we’ve mentioned many times, a large gap in opinions of just how successful the program was.  However, what it did do is create an artificial spike in consumer spending.  If you think about it, the conclusion that was most promoted by the non-objective major newscasters who thought of this as a good idea, was to proclaim its success.

With the direct lending markets still in mourning from the failed practices of many banks mortgage fiasco, a huge market still exists for auto loans and refinancing for everyone who does not have a 720+ FICO score.  In the meantime, and still a “nightmare” is the fact that dealerships are still waiting for their money, and most have stopped junking the trade-ins in fear of Uncle Sam failing to reimburse them under the program.  Time will tell.  What do you think?  Good or bad, let us know.

‘Cash 4 Clunkers’ Nightmare on Elm Street

Regardless of how you feel personally about the “cash for clunkers” program, there is little doubt that some positive things came out of it.That doesn’t over-ride any gasps that have been heard about the unintended consequences of such a program, but you still have to acknowledge it got a lot of buyers excited about buying a car. Let’s stick with that for a minute.

It sill looks like consumers benefited, and the Government benefited by the “look what we’ve done to spark the economy” sound bits spewed all over the media, and finally, the dealerships got rid of a lot of autos sitting on their lots.

The problem is that they seem to be the ones floating the Federal Government, while they try to figure out how to make the payment processing work. That’s funny! From what I’m seeing, most dealerships are going on a wish and a prayer about getting paid.

I’m talking some major cash per dealership that is hung up in government regulations of 150 pages and some 14 different forms that need to be completed. Does that sound like efficiency to you? I think it’s totally blind faith at this point that the dealerships are going to get the money that is owed to them. Citi call centers have been awarded outsourced work, and the National Transportation and Highway and FAA employees have been brought in to process paperwork, in addition to part-time employees having been hired.

It kinda sounds like a cluster — I mean ‘Clunker’ to me. They are all working on trying to input stuff and they can’t get in because there is soooo much of it and the documentation to process just one sale with a qualified rebate takes hours to complete. The computers are overwhelmed. It’s a great program for the manufacturers, a great program for the consumers. For dealers, it’s been an administrative nightmare.

Think about this for a minute – The Obama administration and its allies in Congress propose to overhaul (and potentially run) health care for more than 300 million Americans?

I think we can say cash-for-clunkers doesn’t inspire much confidence in Washington’s bureaucratic acumen. Or its speed! Or its feel for a functioning market, the demands and expectations – – OK I’ll stop.

Will the dealers get paid? Yes, because failure to do so would be a PR disaster of epic proportions for the democrats and the administration. Will the program prove to be the jumpstart languishing auto sales need? Debatable, but probably not, though depleted inventories already are forcing increased production schedules across the industry. Those announcements were made about a week ago.

The more important question, it seems to me, is what the obvious administrative failures of cash for clunkers say about the federal government’s capability to manage programs more typically run by the private sector. And, secondly, why is there a clamor for more of the same? What is it about this poorly run program that the American people or even congress wants more of? Tell me, what am I missing? Why did the public not see or hear about the issues in the media? Clearly journalism has seen better days and major networks appear to be agencies for the Obama administration.

Sad day for the USA.

Auto dealers are in business to make money selling cars and trucks, not to serve as conduits for federal transfer payments. If nothing else, cash for clunkers proved Americans still love good deals — and that their government cannot process them.

Auto Sales to Shrink after Clunkers program Expires

With all the hoopla over the “Cash for Clunkers” program in terms of helping dealers move a large quantity of autos new autos and some additional used car inventory for shoppers who could not meet the program’s requirements, the auto segment has clearly enjoyed year over year sales improvements.  The C for C program in August is private-party used sales.  That is from the latest analysis from CNW Research.

It is interesting that no media analysis has ever told the tale of the “unintended consequences” of the destruction of more than a quarter million used cars, especially older models that would have gone to charity or been sold on the private party market.   It’s an obvious benefit to the new dealers, that’s for sure.  This creates the supply shortage, especially for lower prices cars resulting in the remaining cars left on dealer lots to increase the sales price.  Since demand has remained strong, at least for the first few days and possibly weeks, it would have forced the average prices to increase because the least expensive cars and trucks were being removed from the overall inventory available.

Owners of vehicles that didn’t qualify for the clunker program reverted to their original intent and sold the cars and trucks private party, according to Art Spinella, president of CNW Research.   Specifically, private used-vehicle sales are expected to total 1.214 million in August, a 1.5-percent improvement from a year ago. Meanwhile, franchised dealers are expected to move 1.417 million used units, a 0.5-percent decline, and independents are likely to sell 1.246 million used cars, a 0.4-percent upswing.

Cash for Clunkers affected the new side of the market. According to his analysis, at the mid-point of July, new-vehicle sales were on pace to have a 22.2-percent year-over-year decline.  However, the heavy promotion and coverage of CARS helped to lift new-vehicle sales to 997,572 units for the month, which was down less than 13 percent from July 2008.   The “bounce” in floor traffic at the end of July continued through the first two weeks of August, and this helped multiple areas of the industry, according to Spinella.  First, it drew more ‘lookers’ who weren’t even planning to buy a car or truck. It’s been more than two years since analysts have seen any appreciable increase share of floor traffic consisting of long-term shoppers (those who don’t expect to buy a vehicle for at least a year,) and second, it exposed Cash for Clunker buyers and general consumers to other models, which had a positive overall effect in sales.  There were many benefits for dealerships’ F&I, parts and service operations, as well as for salespeople in general.  I suppose all those who got a subsidy are pleased.

So now what?  Frankly, as it has been observed by others, that dealers have been taking early sales from 2010 expected revenues.  This has driven up prices, while the big 3 have increased production.  What should we expect next?  In my opinion, expect a spiraling drop in sales through the balance of the year, picking up some first quarter 2010.  Shoppers will clearly delay purchases until more signs of a stable economy are seen and their jobs are not threatened.  At some point the auto loan marketplace is going to rebound.  I am looking forward to lenders getting back into the game and providing some service again.