The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Nissan study:
Racism in car loans

Jul 16, 2001

A new study of Nissan Motors car loans shows that black customers consistently were charged more than white customers.

The study compared buyers when they had the same income; yet black customers were still charged more in the states studied. When their credit ratings were exactly the same, black buyers were again charged more than white buyers. In Maryland and Wisconsin, for example, black buyers paid an average of $800 more than white buyers. In some states, black buyers were charged three and four times what white buyers were charged.

The study gave an example of two women from Louisiana who each bought the same model in the same year. Each woman had the same credit rating, the top one. But the white woman, who borrowed $15,093 over five years, paid $277.73 per month. The black woman, who borrowed less, $14,787 over five years, paid $309.94 per month. The difference meant that the black buyer paid $1932.60 more than the white buyer over five years. Racism, pure and simple.

A spokesperson for Nissan was quick to defend the company: “NMAC has never tolerated unfair treatment of any of its customers, let alone racial discrimination.” And that’s what all the car companies say – they would never discriminate.

If anyone thinks the problem is a foreign corporation, they can think again. In addition to the Nissan lawsuit, there are class action lawsuits by black consumers against the financial subsidiaries of General Motors, Ford, DaimlerChrysler and Toyota.

So it’s not a question of one car corporation or one dealership or one state. It is a systematic problem. The racism of this society shows up even in the most mundane everyday transactions over and over again.