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Revived Auto Market, Great Rates Cue Car-Buying Season

Millions of consumers have been driving older vehicles through the economic downturn, reluctant to take on new financial obligations while their personal finances were unsettled. Finally, it seems, many consumers feel better about the economy—and low interest rates—to visit showrooms and buy cars.

If you’re in a shopping mood, you’re going to like what you see in the showrooms. Auto makers, competing for your attention, are stepping up with amenities, advanced technologies, and safety features.

Pair that environment with very low interest rates, and this is a smart time to buy a car.
According to industry forecaster R.L. Polk, Southfield, Mich., “New vehicle introductions in 2013 will escalate dramatically, with 43 new vehicle introductions in the U.S. planned for the year, up nearly 50% over 2012 levels.” And, 60 vehicle redesigns are expected in the coming year.

The large pickup truck segment, which has declined over the past five years, will likely grow with several important new launches in 2013 and into the 2014 model year.

“Recent redesigns of nearly every vehicle in the midsize segment are forcing more competition and continued growth,” says Tom Libby, lead analyst for North America at Polk. “The current array of options for consumers in the market for a new midsized vehicle makes it a great time to buy a new car.”

The luxury segment in the U.S. also will be one to watch in 2013, according to Polk, as it will see significant launch activity in compact sedans. And, if gas prices continue to decline, Polk analysts expect the small luxury crossover segment will continue to grow.

In addition, nonluxury compact crossover vehicles have grown by more than 50% in the past five years. Plus, increased competition in this segment has created pricing pressures—excellent news for consumers.

While the number of hybrid models in the U.S. will increase this year, Polk expects only a slight improvement in this category, due to the continued significant price differential between hybrids and traditionally powered vehicles, and the high number of traditionally powered vehicles that achieve mileage goals similar to those in the hybrid segment.

What to do now, if you’re looking to buy: Talk to an Afena Federal Credit Union loan officer and get preapproved for a loan. This puts you in strong position to negotiate as a cash buyer at the dealership.