With the way most of the United States is physically laid out, people need automobiles. For millions of people it just is not feasible or even possible to use any type of mass transit to get to and from their jobs every day. People who live in suburban areas, especially, find that getting by without a car is just not a possibility. This all goes to explain why nearly 80 million people report that they prefer to live in cities instead of the suburbs. A recent study conducted by Nielsen indicates that 62 percent of people would like to live in mixed-use communities that are found in many large cities, and that 40 percent of people plan to continue living in urban areas for the foreseeable future. The bulk of the study participants were millennials, and some people are calling this generation the “post automobile” sector of the country; the folks who are more likely to rely on other forms of transportation rather than plunking down a bunch of money for a car of their own.
Despite these findings, it seems that millennials tend to do what other generations did when they got older – they start to do things, like moving into the suburbs, starting families and purchasing automobiles to help them get to work and to take care of other commitments. According to information that was released by the National Association of Home Builders, this past spring saw 66 percent of millennials who would prefer to live in the suburbs, 24 percent living in rural areas and just 10 percent preferring city life. This data indicates that we may well see a huge surge in aging millennials hitting the local car lots and looking for a new ride. And more than likely, those car buyers will need to finance these large purchases.
The auto lending industry in huge in America. More than 80 percent of all car purchases are financed by lenders, and the average loan is for just about $27,000. With the auto lending industry being so successful and so helpful to millions of people, it comes as no surprise that this industry has become the latest target of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB.) The bureau has been raising quite a stink lately about auto lenders allegedly using discriminatory practices when approving or denying loan applications.
The Director of the CFPB had this to say, “Many people depend on auto financing to pay for the car they need to get to work. Nonbank auto finance companies extend hundreds of billions of dollars in credit to American consumers, yet they have never been supervised at the federal level. We took action after we uncovered auto-lending discrimination at banks we supervise. Today’s proposal would extend our oversight, allowing us to root out discrimination and ensure consumers are being treated fairly across this market.”
Of course, if the auto lending industry at large was being discriminatory in who it offers loans to this would be a very big deal that everyone should be concerned about. It turns out, however, that the claims from the CFPB are just so much hot air. The bureau has used investigative practices that don’t come close to providing any proof of lenders discriminating, and there are elected officials – both Republican and Democrats – that have called the bureau to task for these types of wild accusations against lenders. However, knowing how the CFPB operates, they likely won’t back down from this fight, and when they are ultimately forced to, they will undoubtedly find another legitimate industry to attack. This has been their M.O. for five years now.