COLUMBUS, Ohio — Huntington Bank’s Second Annual Midwest Economic Index reveals that 22% of consumers in Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia, Indiana and Western Pennsylvania are considering buying or leasing a vehicle in 2014. That’s enough for a one percentage point increase over last year, as analysts predict 2014 will be one of the best years in auto sales since before the recession.

“We’re projecting an increase in auto sales in 2014 as consumers’ needs align with a buyer’s market,” said Rich Porrello, director of Huntington’s Auto Finance division. “And we’re witnessing tremendous consumer enthusiasm at sponsored auto shows across the Midwest in response to the increasing sophistication among manufacturers that are pushing to define a whole new generation of cars and trucks on the road today.”

Of respondents considering a vehicle, 55% report they will buy or lease a new car — up from 52% last year. Thirty percent of respondents — down from 32% last year — will choose a used car.

New auto sales, after hitting a low of 10.4 million units in 2009, have rebounded to four consecutive years of increases, and the expected increase in 2014 would be the first time since the 1930s the industry would have five years of consecutive growth. With the average age of all light vehicles on the road sits at a record-high of 11.3 years, according to Polk (recently purchased by IHS), consumers’ needs are growing. This data, combined with consumer optimism about the U.S. economy, forecasts another strong year for the automotive industry.

With the continued expansion of its indirect lending business, including entry into Connecticut and Iowa in 2013, Huntington’s auto loan volume totaled $4.2 billion last year, as the bank financed more cars than during any other time in its history. A record 205,000 vehicles were financed, enough to stretch end to end from the bank’s Columbus, Ohio, headquarters to Macon, Georgia.


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