SCHAUMBURG, Ill. — Experian Automotive reported this week that the total balance of open automotive loans in the first quarter climbed 11.1% from a year ago to $1.005 trillion. The first time the market reached the trillion dollar mark — including both the total balance of open loans and leases — was in the third quarter of 2015.

Open leases in the first quarter also skyrocketed, Experian added, growing by 27.66% from a year ago to an all-time high of $76.9 billion.

“Automotive financing certainly has started off the year with a bang, seeing steady growth in balances and loan volumes throughout the first quarter,” said Melinda Zabritski, senior director of automotive finance for Experian Automotive. "With more and more consumers relying on financing, it is important for lenders to keep a close eye on delinquency trends to ensure the market remains healthy. Likewise, consumers need to continue making their monthly payments on time to keep affordable financing options open and available."

The firm also reported increases in both 30- and 60-day delinquency rates, noting, however, that the overall percentage of total delinquent loans remains relatively low when compared to pre-recession levels.

In the first quarter, the percentage of loans and leases 30 days delinquent was 2.1%, up from 2.02% in 2015’s opening quarter. The percentage of loans and leases 60 days delinquent grew from 0.57% to 0.61% over the same time period.

Experian also found that the volume of vehicle loans and leases held by nonprime and subprime consumers increased by 9.5% and 10.9%, respectively, from a year ago. Prime consumer loans and leases increased by 8.9%.

Finance companies and credit unions experienced the largest growth in loan and lease market share, growing their share 25.6% and 15.9% from a year ago, respectively. However, banks continued to hold the top position in automotive loan and lease volume, with the segment growing its share by 7.9% from a year ago to $349 billion.