Loan amounts, payments reach new highs

The average new-vehicle monthly payment reached a record $482 in the fourth quarter. That's up from $471 in the year-earlier period. Photo credit: DAVID PHILLIPS

The average amount financed for a new vehicle reached a record $28,381 in the fourth quarter of 2014, Experian Automotive said today.

That was an increase of $950, or 3.5 percent, from the year-earlier quarter and a rise of $582, or 2.1 percent, from the previous high of $27,799, set in the third quarter last year.

“In most parts of the country, vehicles are viewed as a necessity to everyday life, which is why we continue to see consumers willing to take out larger loans as the average price of vehicles continues to rise,” said Melinda Zabritski, Experian’s senior director of automotive finance, in a statement.

The rise in transaction prices parallels that in amount financed. In December, for example, light-vehicle transaction prices rose nearly 3 percent year-over-year to $34,367 -- making December the highest month on record for average transaction prices, according to Kelley Blue Book.

Experian’s data showed that the average new-vehicle monthly payment also hit a record in the fourth quarter, reaching $482, up from $471 in the year-earlier period. The previous high was $474, set in the first quarter of 2014.

The average used-vehicle loan rose year over year in the fourth quarter but fell short of the record $18,576 set in the third quarter last year. In the fourth quarter, the average used-vehicle loan was $18,411, up $437, or 2.4 percent, from the 2013 period.

Experian Automotive started publishing its data in 2006, so the record highs it reported today are the highest since that time.

You can reach Jim Henry at autonews@crain.com

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