WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. – J.D. Power and Associates last month released its 2005 Consumer Financing Satisfaction StudyT, and among the findings the study showed the proportion of leases to loans has increased for the first time in five years. According to the study data, the proportion of luxury buyers who leased their vehicles with the assistance of the dealers increased nine percentage points from 2004 to 64%. Among non-luxury buyers, 22% leased their vehicles – up from 18% in 2004. The marketing information services firm offered that part of the reason leasing is becoming more popular is because of rising interest rates. The average interest rate paid on loans among non-luxury vehicle buyers increased from 4.2% in 2004 to 5% in 2005. Among luxury buyers, the average interest paid increased from 3.9% in 2004 to 4.5% in 2005. The same study also measured customer satisfaction with the vehicle financing process. Four factors were examined to determine customer satisfaction with an automotive finance provider: provider offering, application/approval process, payment/billing process, and customer contact experience. The study found that 22% of luxury new-vehicle buyers secure a loan without the assistance of the dealer – an increase of eight percentage points from 2004. J.D. Power and Associates Manager of Automotive Finance David Lo offered that, “The vehicle loan financing market is becoming even more crowded, and as banks, credit unions and independents become more aggressive with their direct-lending programs, captive providers will be challenged more than ever to defend their turf and retain their customer base.”

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