Americans lease cars in record numbers

31% of cars financed in Q1 2015 were leases.

Americans are leasing cars in record numbers as average lease rates continue to drop.

According to CNBC, a report by Experian Automotive found that of the new vehicles that were financed in the first quarter of 2015, 31.46 percent of them were leased, up from 24.05% just five years ago.

It also appears that buyers are paying less to lease. The report shows that the average lease payment for a new vehicle has decreased by $14 compared to the same time last year, while the average loan payment increased by $7.

Whether these trends are due to lease programs being offered on less expensive vehicles or more aggressive lease support from manufacturers is not apparent from the data provided, however Experian Automotive's senior director, Melinda Zabritski, told CNBC, "Leasing has become more popular because the price of vehicles continues to go up."

"Consumers are looking for lower monthly payments, which is why more of them are extending the terms of their loans," she continued.

Despite the increase in average finance payments, the average length of a loan increased as well, topping 67 months--another record high. Nearly 20% of shoppers opted for loans between 73 and 84 months.

Photo by Andrew Ganz.

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