Given new and disruptive innovations in the auto industry such as driverless cars, collaborative economy models with companies like Uber and Lyft entering the mainstream, new subscription ownership models, and the overall shift to digital experiences, it’s clear that the vehicle industry is experiencing tremendous change. Does this extend to consumer experiences and perceptions around vehicle financing?
To answer that question (and more), FICO has released the findings from our second annual global consumer survey on vehicle finance perceptions. We collected consumer data from 2,000 consumers across nine countries: US, Canada, UK, Mexico, Spain, Chile, Germany, New Zealand, and Australia. Below are some key takeaways (and a few surprises) that we uncovered.
US consumers showed an increasing appetite for online financing—an 8% YoY increase
13% of U.S. consumers acquired their most recent auto loan online, compared to only 5% in 2018, representing an 8% YoY increase for online financing. More than a quarter of consumers (28%) listed online financing as their first choice for their next automotive loan. New Zealand consumers showed the most interest (44%) in online financing as their 1st choice for a future loan.
Today’s digital-savvy consumers said they valued online financing for the following reasons: 1) convenience, 2) the ability to comparison shop across lenders, and 3) speed.
Dealership financing held strong and was the most preferred channel across all regions and all age groups
63% of US consumers applied for their current automotive loans through the dealership, above this year’s global average of 56%. However, only 40% of US consumers said dealership financing would be their first choice for their next automotive loan. Canadian consumers were the most likely to secure financing through dealerships—66%.
Consumers said they valued dealership financing for the following reasons: 1) one-stop shopping, 2) promotions and discounts, and 3) the potential for better deals. Dealership financing was the most preferred channel across all regions and age groups.
Bank / financial institution lending held steady
18% of US consumers applied for their current automotive loans through a bank, while 32% said bank financing would be their 1st choice for a future loan. Consumers said they valued bank financing for the following reasons: 1) trusting and liking their banks, 2) believing they get the best rate at their bank, and 3) negotiating power.
Consumers are gaining more control over the purchasing process
Here are some points to consider:
- 78% of US consumers are initiating automotive loan discussions (versus responding to offers).
- 95% said they only considered between 1 to 3 lenders before making their loan selection.
- 91% of US consumers would accept (or at least consider) an instant vehicle loan offer if it meant avoiding dealing with a bank or doing extra paperwork.
Consumers cared most about: 1) monthly payment (92%); 2) length of loan term (90%); and 3) interest rate (87%). Lenders who proactively and meaningfully engage customers stand to gain a competitive advantage. Consumers are only giving a handful of lenders an opportunity to pitch for their automotive loan business, which underscores the need to engage customers with proactive, compelling offers and build positive, meaningful experiences.
Keep doing what’s working. Close any customer experience gaps
68% of US consumers rated the financing experience as “Easy” with the global average at 74%. Somewhat surprisingly, the US tied with Chile for the second lowest ranking in surveyed countries behind New Zealand’s 66%. YoY globally, there was a 10% increase in the “Easy” ranking.
There is room for improvement in the US to provide customers with a truly “easy” financing experience. The customer’s journey through the credit lifecycle should be evaluated to ensure that all touchpoints enhance the customer experience and bolster loyalty. Customers want the right offer, at the right time, and through their preferred channel.
42% of US consumers waited less than 30 minutes to finalize their loan financing, compared to 43% globally. 58% waited over 30 minutes to complete their financing process, compared to 57% globally. Germany and the UK clocked the fastest times, with 55% having to wait less than 30 minutes.
There is still a significant amount of manual work that takes place to complete a loan and that back-end systems have some room for speed and efficiency improvement. In the future, approvals will be increasingly automated based not only on credit worthiness and risk of fraud, but also with artificial intelligence that assists in optimizing offers for the consumer.
89% of US consumers felt they received a good or excellent deal on their loan. Overall, global consumers reported they felt in control of the process (67%), fully understood the terms (80%), and even enjoyed the experience (50%).
Despite wait times and some experience gaps, overall, US consumers are satisfied with their experience. Relatively fast and easy financing, high-value promotions, and successful negotiations help customers drive away with their new (or new used) vehicles, making all the energy and effort worth the reward.
At the end of the day, US consumers want speed, convenience, fairness, and value. They dislike lengthy paperwork. They want to be treated as individuals, and they want to complete the transaction on the channel that works best for them. Some prefer the convenience of going online, some appreciate the one-stop shopping you can get at a dealership, and others like and trust their bank and prefer to go there. The one thing all consumers have in common? Financing a car isn’t just a one-time transaction—it’s a moment of truth where financing companies can start (or seamlessly continue) a longer term, mutually beneficial relationship.
Additional Information for North America results:
To find out more about the survey, you can download the eBooks at: