Equifax's National Consumer Credit Trends Report shows that the total number of auto loan originations this year through August 31 totaled 14.6 million - the highest number for that timeframe since 2007 (14.8 million).

Total outstanding auto loan balances through October are more than $770 billion, an increase of 11% since auto loan balances bottomed out in April 2011. Similarly, the total number of existing auto loans through October was more than 58 million, which represents a 33-month high.

"Consistent growth in the auto industry is influenced by a combination of factors, including the decreasing amount of write-offs and severely derogative accounts paired with corresponding increases in the numbers of total originations and loan sizes," said Equifax Chief Economist Amy Crews-Cutts. "Sustained recent consumer demand for auto leasing, financing and purchase has driven a return of this portfolio to pre-recession numbers more rapidly than any other lending sector."

Other highlights from the most recent data include:

    •    New auto loan originations year-to-date through August totaled more than $283 billion, which is the highest for that timeframe since 2006 ($297.5 billion).
    •    The average loan amount ($19,492) for the month of August stands at a six-year high, and is only exceeded by same-time 2006 ($20,291).
    •    The most current data shows the number of new auto loans funded by auto finance companies increased 31% from the recession low for the month of August 2009 from 717,600 to more than one million in August, a five-year high.
    •    The most current data also shows the number of new auto loans funded by bank, savings and loan or credit union reached 984,300 in August, a seven-year high for that month.

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