The total balance of auto loans reached $975 billion in December, representing 33.2% of total outstanding non-mortgage consumer debt, according to the latest Equifax Inc. National Consumer Credit Trends Report.
It's a record high and an increase of 9.3% from December 2013. The number of auto loans outstanding is nearly 71 million, up 6.5% from a year earlier.
Serious delinquencies on auto loans represented 1.10% of total outstanding balances in December, a slight increase from November but down 6% from December 2013. Annualized write-offs in December were 2.64% of outstanding balances, a 5.3% increase from December 2013.
The Equifax report also detailed that the number of new loans originated year-to-date through October totaled 21.2 million, an eight-year high, while the total balance of new auto loans reached $434.1 billion, up 7.1% from the same period a year ago.
New loans originated year-to-date through October for nonprime borrowers, or consumers with risk scores of 640 or lower, reached 6.5 million, just under 31% of all auto loans originated, according to the report. Similarly, the total balance of newly originated nonprime auto loans in that same time is $119.0 billion, an eight-year high and representing 27.4% of the total balance of new auto loans.
"While write-offs have increased slightly from last year, delinquency rates remain near record lows. Consumers are excited about both the quality and craftsmanship of the vehicles available today as well as the great financing available. The improving economic situation has finally afforded consumers the opportunity to rekindle their love affair with the automobile," said Dennis Carlson, deputy chief economist at Equifax.