It's time to call a spade a spade.
The idea that a lack of credit is keeping a large percentage of people from buying a new or used car is one of the more ridiculous assumptions still swirling around the auto industry. If you are looking to buy, there's plenty of credit available and frankly, it is a buyer's market.
I bring this up because I still hear people say, "well, If I could get credit, I'd buy."
After hearing this from several people I started calling dealers, auto executives, consultants who work with auto makers. Guess what? Almost all of them say the same thing: If you want an auto loan, you can get it. Granted, if you've got a spotty credit history, you will not get the best deal out there, but you should get a loan.
So what's stopping people from pulling the trigger and making a new buy?
A lack of confidence in the economy, plain and simple. Potential buyers are hesitant to sign up for an auto loan when they are seeing hundreds of thousands of jobs being cut. Even if their job is not in jeopardy, some people are worried they won't get a raise this year or next year.
The growing number of people holding off on buying a new, or even a used car, is creating pent up demand.
At the Chicago Auto Show, Don Esmond with Toyota North America told me that Toyota believes there are between 900,000 and 1 million people putting off their decision to buy for at 6 months to a year. Eventually when those people decide it's time to buy, they will make tight supply of new and used vehicles even tighter.
But make no mistake, when they decide to buy, if they want a loan almost all will be able to borrow the money they need.
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