New and used car loan amounts rose in the first quarter of 2018, the number of people leasing vehicles also dropped through the same period. 
 - Photo by Eric Gandarilla. 

New and used car loan amounts rose in the first quarter of 2018, the number of people leasing vehicles also dropped through the same period. 

Photo by Eric Gandarilla. 

Prices for new and used vehicles reached record highs during the first quarter of 2018, which has increased the average loan amount on a used vehicle by $410 from a year ago, according to the recent State of the Automotive Finance Market report from Experian.

The loan amount for a new vehicle in the first quarter of 2018 was $31,445, $921 higher than the same period in 2017. In the used segment, the average loan amount for a vehicle was $19,536, $410 higher compared to the year-ago period.  

This rise in loan amounts, along with higher monthly payments and interest rates, are expected to hurt new-vehicle sales in the coming months and may push more sales toward the used segment, according to Experian.

Along with the decline in new-vehicle sales, the number of people who leasing a vehicle has also declined nearly 2% in the first quarter. This meant that 29.83% of all new vehicles sold were leased, a decline in the leasing segment, which has seen steady growth since 2014.

For the last few years, leasing has been on the rise and has contributed to the growing number of off-lease vehicles returning to market. A tidal wave of off-lease vehicles are expected to return to the wholesale market this year and for the next few years. This flow of off-lease vehicles have already caused downward pressure on wholesale sedan prices through much of last year.

A shift in the segments returning to market — away from sedans and toward crossovers — are expected to level out crossover wholesale prices, which rose through much of 2017 and have steadily climbed this year.

Meanwhile, possibly due to rising prices for new vehicles, the number of people who leased a used vehicle rose through the first quarter of 2018 to 4.01%, from the 3.71% reported the year before.

As far as who’s financing the bulk of vehicles in 2018, credit unions accounted for a larger share of total vehicles financed.

Roughly 21.3% of the people who financed a new or used vehicle in the first quarter of 2018 used a credit union, an increase from the year before. While banks and captive finance companies both accounted for the majority of financed cars through the first quarter, both segments experienced declines in the percentage of people using them to finance a vehicle.

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