ONTARIO, Calif. — After hitting a monthly low in March, CUDL credit unions have increased their market share by nearly 2 percentage points, and have maintain a share of more than 17 percent since May, CUDL, which provides an indirect lending platform that connects dealers to about 950 credit unions, revealed in late September. On a year-to-date basis, credit unions own a 16.7 percent share of the auto finance market.

Representing the seventh largest auto finance segment through August 2011, CUDL credit unions have financed more than 321,000 loans year to date, a 13.4 increase.

The segment’s auto loan penetration rate did decline to 16.1 percent in the second quarter from 16.6 percent in the year-ago quarter. However, credit unions were able to increase their unit loan volume by 13.4 percent through August.

“Although the total number of loans was flat since the first quarter of this year, the number of credit union members continues to grow,” said Andrea Salgado, a CUDL market research analyst who led the Sept. 28 Webinar.

Citing data provided by Callahan & Associates, Salgado added that auto loans represented 29 percent of the average credit union loan portfolio, based on dollar volume.

Salgado also noted that auto dealers continue to be a major driver of new business for CUDL credit unions, with 67 percent of consumer financed at the dealership being new members. Thirty-three percent of loans originated at the dealerships were made to existing members.

“These values have stayed the same for the last several months,” said Salgado, who noted that indirect loans were down 5 percent.  “A year ago this was at 67 percent for new and 34 percent for existing.”

Prime new-vehicle originations made on the CUDL platform represented 76.4 percent of auto loans originated, down two percentage points from a year ago. Prime used-vehicle originations dropped 2.9 percentage points to 67.3 percent. Average FICO score for CUDL credit unions stood at 729 vs. 733 a year ago. The industry’s average FICO score, according to J.D. Power and Associates, is 728.

Average amount finance for used vehicles among CUDL credit unions was $17,939, while the industry average through July stood at $17,385. Average amount financed for new was up from $25,680 a year ago to 27,880 through August, according to CUDL data.

As for loan performance, delinquencies and charge-offs for the segment continued to track below the 1 percent mark for auto loans outstanding. Credit unions also claimed the lowest 60-day delinquency rate among other lending segments, including banks, at 0.33 percent, with dollar volumes of at-risk loans dropping by $1 billion.

The Webinar also provided an update on the overall industry, with Salgado reporting that auto loan volumes have increased for all lenders except for Chase and Toyota. Ally, she noted, continues to lead the way, growing its loan volume by 51.9 percent year to date.

Salgado also noted a rise in new-vehicle sales vs. used-vehicle sales, the two segments crossing paths between June and August. In August, new-vehicle sales increased 7.5 percent from a year ago, while used-vehicle sales declined 3.3 percent. Through August, new-vehicle sales have climbed 11 percent from last year, while used increased 4 percent. Combined, vehicle sales grew by 6 percent during the first eight months of the year.

Sales right now are tracking at a 12.1 million-unit rate, an increase from the 11.4 seasonally adjusted annual rate recorded through August 2010. Currently, market analysts predict that the industry will end the year between 12.5 and 12.9 million units sold. Salgado said she believes the industry will end the year at the lower end of that range.