Interesting article, but I am a little leery of some of the stats. I’m not saying they are wrong, but it appears that they are using allocation of income as their baseline for what people can afford.
Allocation of income has shifted since the 50’s and 60’s. Probably the biggest shifts are occurring with the food and clothing budgets. Thanks to industrial farming and cheap overseas textile factories, a smaller portion of our living expenses are going to these items, that leave more of our budget for things like car payments.
Back then, cars did not last as long and while there were a lot of people that bought a new car every year, most new car buyers kept their car 3 years, which was about the length of the typical car loan then. Today, we are seeing 7 year loans, but the cars last much longer and are now kept for 10+ years (according to the article).
Most vehicles on average get about double the mileage of vehicles back then and the cost of a gallon of gas, adjusted for inflation is slightly less today, but we also own twice as many vehicles and drive each of them about twice as far each year, so our allocation for gas has probably risen a little.
Since the housing crisis has moved so many people into the rental market, allocation for housing has probably dropped some since 2008, many of the people foreclosed on will not be able to buy a house for a number of years yet, they may be using more of their income on vehicle purchases, at least until they can get approved for a new mortgage.