New auto loans climbed to an eight-year high in the first 10 months of 2013, according to the latest National Consumer Credit Trends Report from Equifax.
Lenders originated 20.2 million auto loans between January and October up 11.6% from the same period in 2012. That translated to $405.2 billion of new loans, a 14.7% increase year over year.
The balance of new auto loans now makes up 49% of all new non-mortgage consumer credit, according to Equifax.
Auto lenders are extending credit to a broader swath of borrowers as delinquencies drop, according to the report.
"Auto delinquencies have declined to levels last seen in mid-2006, and the strength in the performance of loans booked in the last few years is helping to make credit more widely available to those with higher-risk credit profiles, namely subprime borrowers," Equifax Chief Economist Amy Crews Cutts said in a press release Wednesday.
Approximately 30% of auto loan originations are subprime, compared with an average 25% during the recession, according to the report.
The uptick in subprime auto lending has not yet resulted in a spike in late payments. Serious delinquencies on auto loans by finance companies made up 1.88% of outstanding balances in December 2013, down 13.5% from the same period a year ago. Serious delinquencies on auto loans funded by banks or other financial institutions accounted for 0.41% of outstanding balances the same level as in December 2012.
The report also notes banks, savings and loans and credit unions are wading deeper into auto lending. The total number of car loans funded by financial institutions rose to 30.9 million and had a balance of $417.2 billion in December 2013 a five-year high for both statistics.