Auto loan originations were up 15 percent year over year during the January–June period, Equifax reported.

Total loan originations for the first half stood at 9.6 million, which is still below what was recorded during the prerecession years – when finance sources were originating more than 10 million in auto loans. However, this year’s first-half total outpaced the 7.5 million and 8.3 million originations recorded during the 2009 and 2010 period, respectively.

“Auto lending continues to be one of the most promising lending sectors today based on the data," said Michael Koukounas, senior vice president at Equifax. "If this momentum can be maintained through the remainder of the year, 2011 year-end totals should reflect a comparable return to normalcy to prerecession lending levels."

At 1.7 million, June 2011 auto loan origination totals were slightly lower than March’s total of 1.8 million, which was the highest 2011 monthly total. The total, however, was 11 percent higher than June 2010 levels. It also outpaced the 1.6 million originations recorded in August 2009 —the Cash for Clunkers period.