DETROIT (Reuters) - The average amount of a new-vehicle loan in the United States rose by $1,170 in the fourth quarter from a year earlier to a record high $29,551, and the average monthly payment was nearly $500, Experian Automotive said on Thursday.
Leases accounted for a record high 33.6 percent of new vehicles sold, said Experian automotive credit director Melinda Zabritski, primarily because monthly payments are lower.
The monthly payment on a new-vehicle lease was $412 compared with a monthly obligation of $493 for new-vehicle loans.
The rise in the amount financed for new vehicles was 4 percent from a year earlier.
Experian Automotive is a branch of Experian Plc (EXPN.L).
The average length of a loan on new vehicles was 67 months and for used vehicles, 63 months, remaining steady for the fourth quarter of 2014, Experian reported.
Longer-term financing of more than 73 months grew by 12 percent from a year earlier, to make up 29 percent of new-vehicle financing.
The average interest rate for new-vehicle loans was 4.63 percent, and the average interest rate for used-vehicle loans was 8.78 percent, Experian said.
The average credit score of 711 for new-vehicle loans was essentially flat from 712 a year earlier. The average credit score was at its peak during the recession in 2009, at 736, Experian said.
In the quarter, 85.9 percent of new vehicles sold and 54.7 of used vehicles were financed.
Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe