More auto incentives when rates rise: Kelley Blue Book

More auto incentives if rates rise: Pro
More auto incentives if rates rise: Pro   

While rising interest rates will directly impact auto loans, it will be the car manufacturers and dealers who will be hit more than the consumer, at least in the short term, Kelley Blue Book Managing Editor Matt DeLorenzo said Thursday.

That's because higher rates will make it harder for manufacturers to compete, and they'll therefore likely bear the costs and offer more incentives to lure in buyers.

"They're offering incentives with zero percent to 9 percent financing already so there will be more of those deals around," DeLorenzo said in an interview with CNBC's "Power Lunch."

Ford Escape sports utility vehicles on the production line at the Ford Motor Co. assembly plant in Louisville, Kentucky.
Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Ford Escape sports utility vehicles on the production line at the Ford Motor Co. assembly plant in Louisville, Kentucky.

The Federal Reserve has said it will be data dependent when deciding when to begin raising rates. Many market watchers expect that to happen in September or December, but the International Monetary Fund said Thursday the central bank should delay a rate hike until the first half of 2016.

Currently, the average rate for a 60-month new car loan is 4.37 and the average rate for a 48-month new car loan is 4.32, according to Bankrate.

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When rates go up, DeLorenzo believes potential car buyers may turn to longer-term loans or leasing.

"What you may see is a shift more to leasing where you won't see the interest rate rise as much because it will be hidden in the cost," he explained.

However, don't expect auto prices to fall when rates go up, which often happens in the housing market when mortgage rates rise.

"If rates go up, car prices won't fall but you'll see more incentives because the manufacturers aren't interested in lowering the prices for the sake of a cash buyer who will be coming in paying the full pop," DeLorenzo noted.

"It won't make itself known as quick as say in the housing market but it's a factor that'll be there and probably play out over a longer term."

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The U.S. auto industry remained on track for the best sales year in almost a decade as consumers bought cars and trucks in May at the fastest monthly pace since early 2006

—Reuters and CNBC's Stefanie Kratter contributed to this report.