Huntington Bancshares in Columbus, Ohio, has brought on industry veteran Tom Wirth to fill the newly created position of auto finance product and strategy director.

Wirth will oversee a team of 40 employees tasked with strengthening dealer outreach and product and service innovation.

Wirth joins the division at a time of major growth for the $70 billion-asset Huntington's auto finance division. The business spread into Illinois, North Dakota and South Dakota in the past month. A company spokesman told American Banker that Huntington anticipates additional expansion.

Overall, the auto finance division works with 3,800 dealerships across 20 states and manages a $12 billion portfolio.

Observers including Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry have raised concerns that credit quality could deteriorate in the auto loan market, particularly given its rapid growth. Huntington has maintained that its loan growth is taking place against the backdrop of a low base of auto loan delinquencies, mitigating any problems caused by rising chargeoffs.

Prior to joining Huntington, Wirth most recently served as a senior vice president, indirect line of business manager and national retail executive at U.S. Bank, helping push growth of the company's auto finance assets under management to $25 billion. He has also served as a regional manager at Bank One Credit Company and as vice chairman of the Consumer Bankers Association's auto finance committee.

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