An image from the Equifax website.

Auto loans up 49 percent from 2009 low point

New auto loans provided by finance companies from January to March this year reached $52.5 billion, 49% over the recession low of $26.9 billion in March 2009, according to Equifax's May National Consumer Credit Trends Report.

The data also shows new auto loans by banks amounted to $47.5 billion during the same period, marking a seven-year high, 25% higher than the March 2010 low of $35.9 billion.

If the numbers strike you as funny, any experience in the field of statistics will reveal it has little in common with mathematics.

The total of outstanding auto loans is also climbing, surpassing 57 million for the first time since February 2010. The total balance of existing auto loans is also increasing, totaling $740 billion as of May, a 34-month high point.

No doubt, lenders are dancing in the aisles. The following points give them every reason to do so:

• Auto loan delinquency rates have fallen to a five-year low matching pre-recession levels.

• The 5.2 million auto loan originations in the first quarter of 2012 is the second highest total in seven years, exceeded only by the peak of 5.3 million during the first quarter of 2007.

• New auto loans by auto finance companies are up 46 percent from the recession low in March 2009 of 577,900 to 1.06 million last March, marking a five-year high.

• The number of new auto loans funded by banks, savings & loans or credit unions has increased 21 percent from the recession low of 741,000 to 933,900 in March 2012, a seven-year high.

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