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Vehicle loan penetration at credit unions falls for 1st time in 6 years

U.S. credit unions have come a long way in increasing their vehicle loan market share in recent years, but slow growth in loans during the first quarter resulted in a decline in vehicle loan penetration — or the number of vehicle loans as a percentage of credit union members — for the first time in years.

As of March 31, vehicle loan penetration was 21.2%, down 4 basis points from the previous quarter. The total number of vehicle loans increased 0.7% during the quarter, which is the slowest growth rate since the first quarter of 2013.

The total vehicle loan balance rose 0.1% to $370.31 billion as of March 31, representing the slowest sequential increase since the first quarter of 2011. Vehicle loans are up 126% since then.

Balances for used vehicle loans were up 0.8% during the quarter, while they were down 0.9% for new vehicle loans. Used vehicle loans represented 60.2% of the total vehicle loan balance as of March 31 and 70.8% of the total number of vehicle loans.

Twelve of the largest 20 credit unions by vehicle loans reported a decrease in used vehicle loan penetration, while 17 reported a decrease in new vehicle loan penetration. The median used vehicle loan penetration for the industry was down 3 basis points during the quarter to 12.3% and up 1 basis point to 3.5% for new vehicle loans.

The nation's largest credit union, Vienna, Va.-based Navy FCU, reported a quarter-over-quarter decline in both used and new vehicle loan penetration.

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