It’s getting hard to find zero percent auto financing deals and they were more elusive than expected for car shoppers in August, according to Edmunds.
0% Financing Deals Becoming Scarce
The percentage of sales with zero percent finance deals has been cut in half in the last two years — dropping from 14.6 percent of transactions in August of 2016 to only 7.4 percent this August. It’s a trend that started last year when only 10.4 percent of August auto sales had zero percent financing. Analysts note that these numbers are particularly uncharacteristic for this time of year, given that zero percent finance deals typically peak in August and September.
“August truly represents the month that we would have expected to see a turnaround in this trend if one was imminent,” said Jeremy Acevedo, Edmunds’ manager of industry analysis. “Moving forward, shoppers will likely need to do a bit more digging to find other ways to save on a new vehicle because it looks like zero percent finance deals are going the way of the dodo.”
Higher Interest Rates Are A Factor
Edmunds analysts note that higher interest rates continued to contribute toward the scarcity of zero percent finance deals in August. The annual percentage rate (APR) on new financed vehicles averaged 5.8 percent in August 2018 compared to 4.9 percent in August 2017 and 3.9 percent in August 2013. Inventory levels have also hit a record low not seen since 2016, which Edmunds says is creating less of a need for automakers and dealers to pile on costlier incentives.
“Automakers have done a decent job this year at aligning inventory with demand, so there’s no need for dealers to have a fire sale,” Acevedo said. “Manufacturers seem to be more comfortable with a longer sell down period that leverages targeted incentives, instead of an aggressive ‘everything must go now’ mentality.”
Nissan, Toyota Sharpest Decline
Edmunds notes that most automakers have pulled away from zero percent finance deals this year, with automakers such as Nissan and Toyota experiencing the sharpest decline. For Nissan, in August 2017, zero percent finance deals accounted for 13 percent of sales, whereas in August 2018, these deals only accounted for 4.8 percent of sales. For Toyota, in August 2017, zero percent finance deals accounted for 21 percent of sales, whereas in August 2018, they only accounted for 4.6 percent of sales.
“In a somewhat self-fulfilling manner, because fewer automakers are participating in these programs, there is less impetus for other automakers to participate to be competitive,” said Acevedo. “Sometimes incentives are a bit of a follow-the-leader game.”