Things are looking up for the subprime auto loan sector despite lingering consumer wariness about taking on high-interest car loans.
In interviews last month at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Orlando, analysts and company executives said the question in the subprime sector today is more "willingness" than "ability" for both lenders and consumers.
Lenders are more financially able to extend loans, and most consumers haven't seen their credit scores suffer -- although there are exceptions, especially those who have lost their jobs in the recession or who have lost their homes through foreclosure.
But lenders can be reluctant to extend credit to subprime borrowers, and consumers can resist accepting stiffer terms.
"The market really has improved. The securitization market is back. It's open. It's tremendously better," said Tom Webb, chief economist for Manheim Consulting. "Having said that, selling the subprime customer, you've still got to sell the deal. You've got to get more upfront money; there's no question about that. The demand is there, but it's not going to go back to where it was."