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U.S. car financing and leasing - statistics & facts

There are millions of car sales each year in the United States. While some consumers are able to purchase them outright, a majority of new vehicle transactions, and a large share of used vehicle transactions are financed. For consumers, this enables them to smooth the cost of the purchase over several years. For the various auto loan sources, these loans provide interest revenue, with the car as collateral. For many in the United States, public transportation does not service the areas in which they live and work. As such, having a car gives more options and mobility they would otherwise not have.

Why do consumers choose to lease a car?

The car sales in the United States dropped overall after a peak in car sales in the 1980’s, and the sales dropped especially in recent years. For some drivers, owning a car presents a host of maintenance problems and costs of depreciation. This has led to a passenger car leasing industry, which has been growing in recent years. The consumer can rely on the dealer to perform routine upkeep such as oil changes, and after the term of the lease ownership reverts to the dealer. Such arrangements account for a sizable share of new vehicles that enter the market in the United States.

Car financing and leasing conditions for the consumer

The outstanding automotive loan balances in the United States increased steadily until the first quarter of 2020. Both financing and leasing are multi-year investments for the banks, credit unions, and dealerships that pay the up-front costs of the vehicle. As such, the borrower’s credit score influences the value of the loan, as well as the interest rate paid. Even for a used car, the average credit score needed matters and is steadily increasing year-on-year.

Interesting statistics

In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 26 most important statistics relating to "Car financing and leasing in the U.S.".


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