The demand for new cars and light trucks pushed auto loan originations to $69.6 billion in January and February, the highest mark since 2009, according to Equifax.
New credit for auto loans originated in those two months nearly topped the $70 billion mark, which was more than 70% above the recession low of $40.2 billion for the same period in 2009, data from Equifax’s National Consumer Trends Report showed.
Outstanding auto loan balances totaled $798 billion as of April, up more than 8% from the same time a year ago and a 51-month high, according to Equifax.
"Sales of new cars and light trucks hit a five-year high in the first quarter on a seasonally adjusted basis, and consumers' demand for auto loans is similarly strong," said Equifax Chief Economist Amy Crews Cutts.
Light trucks in particular are in demand for the newly energized housing construction trade, and there is a lack of supply of used trucks available so prices on these vehicles are currently rising, Cutts noted.
"Consumers are also funding purchases of used cars with loans at attractive rates, and low delinquency rates are allowing lenders to make credit a bit more easily available,” she added.