Experian, the US credit reporting agency, recently concluded a study into the financing and credit scores of US car buyers. One of the prime findings was that Volvo buyers enjoy the strongest credit scores among new car shoppers from all brands (nota bene, these are Experian's own numbers and can differ from other agencies). Unlike the Forbes report on the same story, though, we don't find that surprising at all, nor do we think it necessarily helps Volvo's upscale brand aspirations. The Gothenburg-based carmaker has sold its wares on tank-like safety for decades, so it seems natural that its buyers would be just as safe with and attentive to their credit scores as they are with their choice of vehicle.

Audi was ranked fourth by consumer credit score, Porsche seventh and Mercedes-Benz ninth, yet the fact that Volvo outranks them in this metric is probably a plus to its bottom line but not necessarily its image. It's not unfair to say more people desire those other luxury brands – Volvo itself has admitted as much – and people in the throes of desire have been known to be a little more let-it-ride about things like credit scores. The differences aren't huge, though: compared to Volvo's 818, Audi shoppers scored at 813, Mercedes shoppers 802. Lexus and Acura intenders took the other two steps on the top-credit-scores podium.

Mitsubishi took the honors at the other end of the charts, Experian finding that its potential customers, with an average of 604, had the lowest scores. Mitsubishi was followed by Suzuki and Dodge. On the other side of the financing table, Toyota led the way in how many of its vehicles were bought with bank assistance, followed closely by Ford, Chevrolet taking third place. Also of note, and for whatever it's worth, not one automaker made both the 'top ten by financing' and 'top ten by credit score' lists, but four made both the financing and 'bottom ten by credit score' lists: Chevrolet, Nissan, Kia and Dodge.

Other interesting findings? The average amount that consumers financed in the third quarter of 2012 for a new vehicle purchase was $25,963 – up from $25,873 a quarter ago. On the used car side of the equation, the average amount financed was $17,577 – up from $17,359 a year ago.

You'll find a lot of other interesting car financing tidbits in the official press release by scrolling down.
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Experian Automotive: Toyota, Ford and Chevrolet top makes financed in Q3 2012
Subprime financing, leasing show strong gains

Schaumburg, Ill., Dec. 04, 2012 - Experian Automotive today announced that Toyota grabbed top honors in Q3 2012, claiming 14.09 percent of all new vehicles financed. Ford was second with 13.16 percent, and Chevrolet was third with 11.10 percent. Findings from its Q3 State of the Automotive Finance Market analysis showed market share for nonprime, subprime and deep-subprime automotive loans for new vehicles grew by 13.6 percent and new vehicle leasing grew by 7.53 percent year over year.

The analysis found that loans financed for new vehicles to customers with nonprime, subprime or deep-subprime credit ratings increased to 24.84 percent in Q3 2012 from 21.87 in Q3 2011. For used vehicles, the total subprime financing market increased 5.47 percent year over year to 54.43 percent in Q3 2012, up from 51.60 percent in Q3 2011.

"With leasing showing a continued upward trend, and lenders increasing their appetite for risk, consumers were in a good position to obtain a vehicle during Q3," said Melinda Zabritski, director of automotive credit at Experian Automotive. "Expanding loans to lower-risk tiers opens the market for more car shoppers, while an increase in leasing means it is easier for consumers to get more vehicle for a lower monthly payment. Both of these trends are positive signs of a strong and recovering auto finance market, which ultimately benefits the consumer and the entire auto industry."

Percentage of new vehicles financed in Q3 2012 by make























Findings from the report showed that lenders still are more risk averse than they were prior to the Great Recession. In Q3 2007, the average credit score for a new vehicle loan was 749, compared with 755 in Q3 2012.

The analysis also included information on the average credit scores by make for new vehicle loans financed in Q3 2012. Consumers who financed a Volvo comprised the highest average credit scores (818), while those who purchased a Mitsubishi made up the lowest average credit scores (694).

Top-scoring new loans by make

















Land Rover






Lowest-scoring new loans by make























In other findings:
• Average consumer credit scores for loans on new vehicles fell by eight points, from 763 in Q3 2011 to 755 in Q3 2012. For used vehicles, the average consumer credit scores fell by eight points, from 676 in Q3 2011 to 668 in Q3 2012.
• Credit unions and finance companies showed strong market share growth of 4.5 percent for overall automotive loans. Credit unions now have 18.22 percent of the overall automotive loan market, while finance companies grew to 13.29 percent.
• Banks still have the highest market share at 40.98 percent, but they had a market share decline of 2.9 percent from Q3 2011 to Q3 2012.
• The average amount financed for a new vehicle loan grew from $25,873 in Q3 2011 to $25,963 in Q3 2012.
• The average amount financed for a used vehicle grew from $17,359 in Q3 2011 to $17,577 in Q3 2012.
• Thirty-day delinquencies fell from 2.78 percent in Q3 2011 to 2.67 percent in Q3 2012, marking the second consecutive year that third quarter 30-day delinquencies stayed below the prerecession level of 2.81 percent from Q3 2007.
• Sixty-day delinquencies fell from 0.71 percent in Q3 2011 to 0.69 percent in Q3 2012. This marked the second consecutive year that third quarter 60-day delinquencies stayed below the prerecession level of 0.74 percent from Q3 2007.
• Quarterly repossession rates fell from 0.62 percent in Q3 2011 to 0.40 percent in Q3 2012.
• Quarterly repossession rates for banks, credit unions, captives and finance companies all fell, with finance companies showing the sharpest decline, dropping from 2.36 percent in Q3 2011 to 1.18 percent in Q3 2012.
• Overall charge-off amounts rose from $6,820 in Q3 2011 to $7,026 in Q3 2012.

Experian Automotive's quarterly credit trend analysis features market reporting data and analysis from its AutoCount® Risk Report, which analyzes automotive lending markets based on a uniform measurement of credit quality that segments markets by geography, credit score and vehicle registrations, among other factors. It also incorporates data from the Experian–Oliver Wyman Market Intelligence Reports, which provide topical, quarterly analysis; peer benchmarking options; and commentary on key issues facing the financial services industry.

About Experian Automotive
Experian Automotive provides information services and market intelligence that enables results-driven professionals to gain the fullest possible understanding of the market, the vehicles and the people who buy them. Its North American Vehicle DatabaseSM houses data on nearly 700 million vehicles and, when combined with Experian's credit, consumer and business information, provides an integrated perspective into the automotive marketplace. Experian Automotive's AutoCheck® vehicle history reports provide dealers and consumers with in-depth information, allowing them to confidently understand, compare and select the right vehicles. For more information on Experian Automotive and its suite of services, visit our Website at http://www.ExperianAutomotive.com.

About Experian
Experian® is the leading global information services company, providing data and analytical tools to clients around the world. The Group helps businesses to manage credit risk, prevent fraud, target marketing offers and automate decision making. Experian also helps individuals to check their credit report and credit score, and protect against identity theft.

Experian plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 index. Total revenue for the year ended March 31, 2012, was $4.5 billion. Experian employs approximately 17,000 people in 44 countries and has its corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, with operational headquarters in Nottingham, UK; California, US; and São Paulo, Brazil.

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