Credit Unions Show Optimism for 2024 Auto Finance Market

Credit Unions Show Optimism for 2024 Auto Finance Market

The “Future of Auto Finance” snapshot survey of credit union professionals, reports that credit union worries about liquidity, however, will continue into 2024.

According to Credit Union Leasing of America’s (CULA) recent “Future of Auto Finance” snapshot survey of credit union professionals, credit union worries about liquidity will continue into 2024, with 48% anticipating the liquidity crisis will last for another one to two years or more, and only 9% seeing signs of it abating. 

Nevertheless, the online survey, which was fielded in January 2024, also indicates that 59% of credit unions are viewing 2024 with some optimism (although over one-third are “apprehensive”), with 39% expecting growth in their auto finance portfolios in 2024 and only 16% expecting it to decline. There will also be a significant change/drop in interest rates in 2024 predict over 74% of credit union professionals surveyed, although one in four don’t expect that change until 2025.

And one thing respondents were nearly unanimous about (95%) is the benefit to their members of credit union relationships with auto dealers, with over 70% saying they plan to deepen/increase those relationships in 2024. 

“While our survey indicates that there is still some apprehension among credit unions about the auto finance landscape in the year ahead, there are many positive signs — especially that 85% expect no decline in their auto finance portfolios in 2024, and most are indicating that the trends of extended loan terms as well as high interest rates are easing up,” said Mark Chandler, vice president of business development for CULA. “Many of the credit union professionals we surveyed are looking to further enhance their relationships with auto dealers, which we see as significant because those relationships offer many benefits, including streamlining the loan approval process, more customized loan packets for CU members, and allowing dealers to offer more options, greater lending solutions and more flexibility.” 

The results of the survey are in line with recent data from Experian, which reported continuing stabilization in the auto finance market, with more consumers opting for shorter term loans on new vehicles (1). In the CULA survey, 86% of respondents say they don’t expect to extend loan terms any further in 2024, a contrast from CULA’s mid 2023 survey in which the majority of respondents had cited over-extension on used loans as their biggest concern about the 2023 auto finance landscape. 

Recent reporting from Experian shows that vehicle affordability is beginning to improve while loan terms are decreasing. That being said, the average monthly new auto loan payment was $726 vs $597 for a lease, and the average term of a new vehicle loan was 68.26 vs 36.18 months for a lease in Q3 2023. (2)

This perhaps explains why nearly 60% of credit union professionals surveyed by CULA say they believe vehicle leasing would be a positive addition to their finance portfolio in 2024 – data that is borne out by the uptick in new vehicle leasing also reported by Experian: from 21.15% in 2022 to 27.37% in 2023. (3)

“Our survey results indicate that CUs are finally getting back to some normalcy and, most importantly, that the industry will survive the liquidity crisis of 2023,” continued Chandler. “We are especially pleased to see that credit unions are increasingly interested in exploring the benefits of adding vehicle leasing to their portfolios.” 

Key Survey Takeaways

  • 83% expect the liquidity crisis to last for at least six months to one year or more, with 48% anticipating it will last for one to two years or more.
  • 74% expect a significant drop in interest rates in 2024, with 26% saying 2025 at the earliest.
  • 86% don’t expect further extension of their loan terms in 2024.
  • 85% expect their portfolio to grow or remain flat (46%) in 2024.
  • 59% are somewhat (53%) or very (6%) optimistic about the auto finance market in 2024, with 36% apprehensive and 5% pessimistic.
  • 59% think that vehicle leasing would be a positive addition to their finance portfolio in 2024, with 30% unsure.
  • 95% view partnering with dealerships on auto financing and vehicle leasing as a positive for their members.
  • 71% plan to deepen or increase partnerships with auto dealers in 2024.

The “Future of Auto Finance” Snapshot Survey was conducted online Jan. 4-25, 2024, among 90+ credit union professionals.

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