CHICAGO — Transunion reported this week that 75.6 million consumers who had an auto loan in 2015’s end-of-year quarter. That’s up 7.8% from the 70.1 million in the fourth quarter 2014 — the largest year-over-year growth observed by the firm.

New auto lease originations, which TransUnion reports one quarter behind to ensure all accounts are reported and included in the data, exceeded 7.5 million during the third quarter, up 8% from prior-year period.

“Loan and lease originations and balance growth are outpacing auto sales, as more consumers choose to finance rather than pay cash for their vehicle,” noted Jason Laky, senior vice president and automotive business leader for TransUnion. “Growth was observed across all risk tiers, a promising sign for the auto industry as we head into 2016.”

Also on the rise was average auto loan debt per borrower, which grew 3.1`% from the prior-year period to $17,999 by year-end 2015.

TransUnion also noted that the 60-day delinquency rate reach its highest level since the fourth quarter 2010, when the rate reached 1.22%. In 2015’s end-of-year quarter, the delinquency rate increased 6.4% from the prior-year period to 1.24%.

“As lenders’ portfolios rebalance to accommodate the growth in nonprime lending over the past few years, we expect a mild uptick in delinquency,” said Laky. “We remain in a low delinquency environment, but have observed pockets of pain in states with large exposure to the energy industry. Lenders should be mindful of different economic impacts and employment levels in various regions of the U.S.”

Originally posted on F&I and Showroom