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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It hasn’t been this easy to get a car loan in years.

Why it matters: It comes amid a demand bonanza that got underway at the onset of the pandemic — when traveling by car became the more appealing mode of transportation.

Car loan approval ratings are at the highest since 2015, according to Cox Automotive.

  • What's happening: Auto loans are getting cheaper and lengthier, two factors that lower monthly payments — what "most consumers are focusing on, more than anything else," says Cox Automotive economist Jonathan Smoke.
  • "Consumers have been consistently seeing better rates every month this year than a year ago — that's really helped offset some of the inflation in vehicle prices," Smoke says.

The big picture: The net percentage of banks making loans harder to get is at the lowest level since 2012 — a sign that lenders are keeping borrowing conditions loose, if not making them looser.

  • It's a sharp reversal from last year, when it looked like the economy was on the precipice of disaster.
  • Meanwhile, the net share of banks reporting stronger demand for auto loans hit a new pandemic-era high (also the highest in nine years).

But, but, but: "Banks aren't just giving loans to anyone," says Jesse Rosenthal, an analyst at CreditSights.

  • Around a third of auto loan originations are going to people with credit scores above 760 — higher than it was trending previously, Rosenthal says.

Go deeper

Sep 23, 2021 - Economy & Business

Individual car owners are competing with rental agencies

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

With rental cars in short supply, enterprising car owners have amassed their own small fleets of automobiles, renting them out to travelers at a premium.

A snapshot: If you need a car in Boston for a weekend in mid-October, you can rent a Ford Fiesta hatchback from Budget for about $500 — or pay the same for a Maserati Quattroporte from Turo.com, a car-sharing site.

Ina Fried, author of Login
9 mins ago - Technology

Intel CEO blames predecessors for manufacturing woes

Axios on HBO

When it comes to Intel's recent manufacturing problems, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger places the blame squarely on his predecessors — many of whom he notes were not engineers deeply steeped in chip technology, as he is.

Why it matters: Gelsinger has announced a broad plan to reinvigorate Intel by doubling down on manufacturing. However, the strategy depends on the venerable semiconductor giant recovering from recent stumbles.

Marketing to Generation Alpha

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Marketers are pouring money into figuring out the tastes and habits of Generation Alpha — kids born from 2010 through 2024— who are unprecedented in the extent they're growing up online.

Why it matters: They're weaned on TikTok, Amazon and in-app purchases. They're learning from their millennial parents to hold brands accountable for causes like social justice and sustainability. And no prior age cohort will be as large in size or marketing power.