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No Subprime Bubble in Sight, Equifax Says

October 7, 2014

ATLANTA — While year-to-date auto loan growth rates have slowed compared to last year, totals for new credit and the number of new loans originated for auto purchases are at all-time highs, according to Equifax’s latest National Consumer Credit Trends Report.

Through June, the total number of new loans originated was 12.5 million, an increase of 4.9% from same time a year ago. The total balance of new loans was $254.2 billion, an increase of 6.9% from same time a year ago. The total also represents nearly half of total new non-mortgage credit originated.

“Auto sales continue to soar, crossing the 17.4 million mark on an annualized basis for new cars and light trucks in August,” said Amy Crews Cutts, senior vice president and chief economist at Equifax. “The abundance of high-quality vehicles for sale, the attractive financing options available, and the ever-increasing age of cars on the road today have created an environment that makes it easy for consumers to say ‘yes’ when it comes to purchasing a new or used car.

“Importantly, auto loan originations to borrowers with subprime credit scores remain stable, providing additional evidence that a bubble is not occurring in that space,” she added.

On that note, the total number of new loans originated year to date through June for subprime borrowers, defined as consumers with Equifax Risk Scores of 640 or lower, is 3.9 million, representing 31.2% of all auto loans originated this year. This is a slight decrease in share from this same time in 2013.

Similarly, the total balance of newly originated subprime auto loans was $70.7 billion, an eight-year high. The total also accounted for 27.8% of the total balance of new auto loans, a slight increase in share from the previous year. However, serious delinquencies represented 1.05% of total balances outstanding, a decrease of 8% from same time a year ago.

Year to date in June, the average loan amount for borrowers with risk scores of 680 or lower increased the most, showing a 3% increase from the previous year. Loan sizes among borrowers with risk scores of 760 or higher showed little change from the same time a year ago.

The report also showed that the total balance of auto loans outstanding in August was $924.2 billion, an all-time high and an increase of 10.8% from same time a year ago. The total number of auto loans outstanding stood at more than 65 million, a record high and an increase of more than 6% from the same time last year.

By source, balances on outstanding loans funded by banks, savings and loans and credit unions totaled $453 billion, while the total number of loans was more than 31.4 million. Similarly, total outstanding balances for loans funded by auto finance companies was $471.2 billion, while the total number of existing loans was 34.1 million.

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