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Auto loans rev their engines
MADISON, Wis. (12/6/12)--Auto loans and sales in the U.S. are trending upward, benefiting the auto industry and financial institutions, including credit unions.

U.S. auto sales surged 15% in November, propelling the selling rate significantly above 15 million for the first time since 2008.  The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate reached 15.6 million last month--the highest level since January 2008 (Automotive News Dec. 3).    

Also, auto-loan originations in the U.S. for this year through August hit 14.6 million--the highest number for that period in five years, according to a report from consumer credit-reporting agency Equifax Inc. (Dow Jones Commentary Nov. 21). 

Total outstanding loan balances were more than $770 billion through October--an 11% increase since auto-loan balances hit their bottom in April 2011, Equifax said. Also, the total number of existing auto loans at the end of November was more than 58 million--a 33-month high, Equifax added.

The number of new-auto loans that credit unions, banks and savings and loans funded hit 984,300 in August--a seven-year high for that month, Equifax said.

In October, new-auto loans at U.S. credit unions rose to 19.3% of all credit union loans from 18.6% in October 2011, according to the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) monthly sample of credit unions.

Similarly, used-auto loans increased to 10.5% of all credit union loans from 10.2% in the same time period, according to the CUNA report.
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