ATLANTA — The total balance of auto loan originations year to date in May 2013 was more than $196 billion and represents more than 50 percent of all new non-mortgage consumer credit originated in 2013, according to Equifax’s latest National Consumer Credit Trends Report.

In addition, new credit for auto originations from January to May 2013 reached an eight-year high, increasing more than 15 percent from same time a year ago. The total number of new loans in that same time was 9.9 million, also an eight-year high and a year-over-year increase of nearly 12 percent.

"Demand for new and used cars is accelerating with improvements in the economy and the auto credit industry is supporting that rise in demand," said Equifax Chief Economist Amy Crews Cutts. "Today, buoyed by a better economy, consumers are looking to finally replace these old cars. Lending standards are also relaxing a bit, allowing more otherwise well-qualified subprime-credit buyers to obtain a new set of wheels."

Additionally, balances on outstanding auto loans in July 2013 total $826 billion, the highest level in five years and an increase of nearly 10.9 percent from same time a year ago. Similarly, the total number of existing auto loans stands at 61 million, a 54-month high.

By source, loans funded by banks, savings and loans, or credit unions, totaled $397.1 billion, while the total number of loans originated reached 29.3 million — a five-year high for both. The total outstanding balance for loans funded by auto finance companies was $429.7 billion — a 50-month high — while the total number of existing loans was more than 31 million, its highest level in 46 months.

Serious delinquencies on auto loans funded by finance companies in July 2013 represented 1.84 percent of outstanding balances, a year-over-year increase of more than 14 percent. Serious delinquencies on auto loans funded by banks and other depositories were 0.34 percent of outstanding balances in July 2013, 5.8 percent lower than the same time a year ago.