U.S. auto purchasers are borrowing more money and doing better at repaying their loans, Equifax reported.
The credit reporting company said the balances of U.S. consumers’ auto loans hit $782 billion at the end of January, the highest level since January 2009 for a 48-month high. The total number of existing loans hit 59 million, Equifax said.
Loans funded through financial institutions such as banks, savings and loans or credit unions, are at more than $372 billion, realizing a 60-month high and back to pre-recession levels. Similarly, at more than$409 billion, balances on loans funded by auto finance companies are at their highest levels in 46 months, Equifax said.
Delinquency rates within the auto portfolio are also improving, and by year-end 2012 decreased by nearly 11 percent from same time a year ago, while auto loan and lease losses in that same period dropped nearly 10 percent.
“Sales of new cars and light trucks are rising steadily, though they are still well below pre-recession levels of roughly 17 million units,” said Equifax Chief Economist Amy Cutts. “Yet auto lending, including leases, is now back to pre-recession levels, driven in part by the very attractive interest rates being offered on these loans and a gradual increase in willingness to lend to less-than-perfect credit borrowers.”
Equifax said the most recent data shows that auto loans originated between January-November 2012 totaled $387.7 billion, a six-year high and representing nearly 46 percent of total consumer credit originated ($825 billion) for that same time.
• The total number of new auto loans originated between January-November 2012 was 19.9 million, an increase of more than 11 percent from January-November 2011 and matching a six-year high.
• New auto loans funded in November 2012 by banks, savings and loans or credit unions increased nearly 13 percent over November 2011 totals (749,800 to 857,300).
• For January-November 2012, auto lending to subprime borrowers (origination risk scores less than 640) has increased more than 18 percent year-over-year, from 5.1 million to 6.1 million, Equifax said.