This feature first appeared in the August issue of Auto Finance News.
Automotive OEMs are seeking new ways to meet an escalation in consumer expectations for a seamless and enhanced online car-buying experience as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. Mazda Financial Services, the recently established private label financing arm for Mazda North America, for one, is looking to meet its customers at the digital door.
Direct loan originations for Nicholas Financial increased 18% year over year to $2.4 million in principal balances in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2021 that ends June 30, according to the company’s earnings report. While direct loans increased, indirect loans fell 11.9% YoY to $16.8 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Digital automotive marketplace TrueCar is selling its data analytics subsidiary ALG for $135 million to consumer intelligence company J.D. Power after multiple parties expressed interest in the brand during the past six months, TrueCar spokeswoman Shadee Malekafzali told Auto Finance News
Alfa is launching Alfa Start — a preconfigured edition of the company’s software platform, Alfa Systems — to streamline its delivery and make the product accessible and affordable to more auto lenders.
So far, Alfa is already integrating Alfa Start with two new lenders: a start up, and another with about 30,000 contracts, according to Simon Clark, director of business development at Alfa.
Polaris Inc. inventory levels fell 47% from last quarter, the lowest recorded in over 20 years in the North American division, said Chief Executive and Chairman Scott Wine in an earnings call last week. The reduced inventory may be attributed to a spike of new customers flooding into the powersports industry as well as slowed production, he added.
Nearly 75% of sales in the second quarter were customers new to Polaris, Wine said. “Our core customers are great, but they’re somewhat insular. As we bring these new customers in, they are more likely to invite their friends to come along for a ride, they are more likely to be in line for a second vehicle over time.”
Nikola Motor Company has made waves in the automotive market since it penetrated the industry and launched its IPO in early June. In fact, the electric-vehicle manufacturer secured a $34 billion market capitalization on its first day of trading, and surpassed Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in market cap shortly afterward.
The Auto Finance Coalition has been meeting with the Federal Trade Commission to discuss changes to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, said Todd Wolf, chairman of the Auto Finance Coalition in the first session of the Auto Finance Risk Summit webinar series. He said the AFC hopes to secure an extended window to investigate claims of identity fraud.
“We’ve had a lot of meetings within the last 12 months about the issues and [the FTC has] had open dialogues with us,” Wolf said. “They are now recognizing that there’s a gap that they might have to fill.”
The coronavirus pandemic has stimulated an avid interest in shopping alternatives, spurring automotive consumers toward an online experience. Despite the pivot, digital auto advertising is projected to take a 48.8% hit in market spending from March to December, compared to last year, according to a June Marketing Charts survey.
Yet, that projection has not stopped auto manufacturers and their captives from injecting millions into television and online ads to boost consumer interest. Featured here are the ad campaigns and spends by top auto industry players, which highlight financing initiatives since the pandemic crisis began in March, according to iSpot.tv, a media measurement company.
Flagship Credit Acceptance’s July 23 securitization, which funneled $213 million into the ABS market, saw a rise in the APR and concentrations of direct loans, offsetting the need for increased credit enhancement even as the company’s projected losses increased, according to a S&P Global presale report.
“In our view, the greater proportion of direct loans, which historically performed better than the indirect loans — coupled with lower debt-to-income (DTI) and payment-to-income (PTI) ratios and a reduction in the percentage of loans with terms greater than 60 months — offset the decline in called collateral and seasoning,” according to the report.
The number of auto loan accounts in financial hardship finally leveled off in June, according to TransUnion’s Monthly Industry Snapshot report released July 23. The growth rate, while still ticking upward, has slowed from previous months, said Satyan Merchant, senior vice president and automotive business leader at the credit reporting agency.