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Auto Loan Debt Reaches Three-Year Mark, Delinquencies Remain Low

May 22, 2014

CHICAGO — Auto loan debt per borrower has now increased for three consecutive years, according to the latest TransUnion auto loan report. Auto loan debt per borrower has risen nearly 13% — or more than $1,900 — since this trend began in the first quarter 2011.

Auto loan debt per borrower jumped 4.1% from $16,191 in the first quarter 2013 to $16,862 in the first quarter 2014. On a quarterly basis, auto loan debt increased from $16,769 in fourth quarter 2013.

The 60-day delinquency rate increased 1% in the first quarter 2014 from a year ago. However, auto loan delinquencies dropped sharply on a quarterly basis from 1.14% in fourth quarter 2013. The delinquency rate remains below the first quarter average of 1.10% observed between 2008 and 2014. 

The data provided was gathered from TransUnion's proprietary Industry Insights Report (IIR), a quarterly overview summarizing data, trends and perspectives on the U.S. consumer lending industry. The report is based on anonymized credit data from virtually every credit-active consumer in the United States. 

"The continued increase in auto loan debt is a healthy sign that auto sales and the auto loan market continue to perform well," said Pete Turek, vice president of automotive in TransUnion's financial services business unit. "It's also encouraging to see auto loan delinquency rates remain at low levels; the 14-basis point drop this last quarter is especially encouraging."

TransUnion recorded 70 million auto loan accounts as of the first quarter 2014, up from 57.4 million in first quarter 2013. Viewed one quarter in arrears (to ensure all accounts are included in the data), new account originations increased to 5.69 million in fourth quarter 2013 from 5.29 million in fourth quarter 2012. "The fact that there are nearly 13 million more auto loan accounts than just one year ago points to strong demand for credit and the wide availability of credit in the marketplace," Turek added. 

The subprime delinquency rate (those consumers with a VantageScore 2.0 credit score of less than 641 on a scale of 501-990) increased from 5.11% in first quarter 2013 to 5.52% in first quarter 2014. The share of nonprime originations (those consumers with a VantageScore 2.0 credit score of less than 700) grew by 34 basis points to 31.96% in the fourth quarter 2013, which was still lower than what was observed at the beginning of the recession (37.34% in fourth quarter 2007). 

"Auto loans to the subprime population are growing as are delinquency rates for that group, but as an industry, the level of risk is well managed," Turek said. 

Eleven states experienced a decline in their auto loan delinquency rates between the first quarter 2013 and the first quarter 2014. The largest delinquency declines occurred in Oregon, Hawaii and California. The largest increases occurred in Michigan, Arkansas and Alaska. Auto loan balances rose in every state between the first quarter 2013 and the first quarter 2014.

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