Give thanks for pent-up demand, lender rivalry

Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News

This Thanksgiving, dealerships can be grateful for pent-up demand and sharper competition among auto lenders.

Those factors show no sign of letting up any time soon, according to research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.

The company estimates that the total number of new and used vehicles financed at U.S. dealerships will grow to 33.6 million by 2018. That's an increase of about 32 percent from 25.5 million in 2011, the company said.

Stephen Spivey, Frost & Sullivan's program leader for automotive and transportation, said last week that banks, captives and credit unions are all motivated to fight for share in a growing market.

"With the market rebounding," Spivey said, "now competition will intensify."