ATLANTA — Total outstanding auto portfolio balances reached $1.27 trillion through May, the first time balances have surpassed $1.25 trillion, according to Equifax. That’s despite finance sources continuing to pull back from the high-risk tiers.

On a year-to-date basis through May, the auto finance industry originated 10.2 million auto loans during through May totaling $230 billion, a 1.1 increase in accounts and a 3.2% increase in balances from the year-ago period. Auto loans made to customers with subprime credit accounted for 22.8% of all auto loan originated during the quarter and 18.1% of origination balances, down from 23.7% and 19% in the year-ago period, respectively.

"As further evidence of the strong automotive market that has been present ever since the end of the recession, total outstanding auto portfolio balances have now eclipsed the one-and-one-quarter-trillion mark, reaching $1.27 trillion," said Gunnar Blix, Deputy Chief Economist for Equifax. "While total originations are down slightly from the previous two years, clearly the solid economy continues to make shoppers comfortable in absorbing not only higher prices of vehicles, but also in larger balances on their loans."

The industry originated 2.33 million auto loans for consumers with subprime credit through May, a 2.5% decrease from the year-ago period. The total balance for these loans was $41.7 billion, a 1.8% decrease year over year.

Additionally, the average origination loan amount for all auto loans issued year to date through May was $22,946, a 2.55 increase from the year-ago period. The average subprime loan amount was $18,306 over the same period, a 0.82% increase from the prior-year period.

Equifax also reported that more than 1.67 million auto leases were originated through May totaling $27.2 billion. That’s in line with lease originations in the year-ago period, although the total balance of those leases was down 1.9% from the prior year. Subprime lease originations totaled 154,800, with the balance of those leases totaling $2.67 billion. Compared to a year ago, subprime lease originations were down 3.6% and balances were down 3.9%.

According to the firm, leases accounted for 14.1% of all auto loan accounts originated and 10.6% of total balances. The average origination balances for all auto lease issues through May was $16,325, a 0.89% decrease from the prior-year period.

Originally posted on F&I and Showroom