Snow, ice, and bitterly cold temperatures made for a very sluggish February for most of the nation’s franchised and independent car dealers. With sales mostly flat for four of the five major OEMs, only Chrysler Group and Nissan Motor Co. bucked the trend with double-digit increases. General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Hyundai-Kia all said that the severe winter weather accounted for the significant drop in February sales. However, dealers associated with these OEMs said that traffic improved in the second half of the month, as storms and frigid temperatures eased.
Sales chiefs at the OEMs said that consumers that were "shut-in" in February due to the severe winter weather have a pent-up demand to buy cars and trucks, which should become a reality in March, as the weather warms up.
Here at ACE we see the same trends occurring, with our dealers telling us that they expect traffic into their stores to increase in March and continue throughout the spring months. According to Michael Kuppe, Vice President of Sales at Auto Credit Express, “our dealers in the South and Northeast reported slow sales overall (in both new and used vehicles) in February because people just didn’t want to venture out to buy a car in the snow, ice and cold.” However, as the weather warms and consumers receive both their Federal and state tax refunds, dealers said “they expect that folks will flock to their dealerships looking at purchasing their next new vehicle.”
In anticipation of this pent-up demand, many of our ACE dealers have opted to increase the number of sub-prime internet leads they receive monthly from us in order to capture “their share” of these “in-market” customers looking to buy vehicles in March and beyond. Other dealers have opted to engage ACE for direct mail campaigns in March and beyond, also aimed at driving in additional traffic to their stores, to take advantage of the opportunity to capture these customers and put them into new vehicles in this time frame.
According to Experian in a 2012 study, auto finance, in its entirety, represents a $55 billion spend category. The Sub-prime or Special Finance market is about half of that and it’s growing fast. The industry is quite profitable: 32% net margins overall, and as high as 40% for "buy here pay here" lenders. After a dip in the recession, consumer demand is up for this type of financing.
Auto Credit Express was founded in 1999. Today we are the largest automotive special finance total solution firm, offering people in North America that have bad credit a selection of over 1,200 dealership and lender partners.
We take pride in helping first time buyers, people with various credit levels, repossessions, and people after bankruptcy to get financed for a new or late model car. We help real people across the country every day. It's one of the things that make us different, it makes us better!