August 5, 2021

Auto booming at 3 major U.S. lenders

Several major U.S. auto lenders posted landmark first-quarter earnings last week, citing voracious customer demand despite limited inventory.

Auto loan and lease originations surged 35 percent at Chase Auto to $11.2 billion, with the company recording in March the highest number of auto originations in its history. Wells Fargo Auto increased originations 7.7 percent to $7 billion. Ally Financial posted its highest auto origination volume in five years with $10.2 billion in loans and leases.

Similar to its competitors, Ally’s first-quarter results benefited greatly from year-over-year comparisons to the first quarter of 2020 that faced the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic impact. But Doug Timmerman, Ally’s auto finance president, pointed out that the company’s strength still greatly exceeded 2019’s first-quarter results.

“As we start the second quarter, we see that continue,” Timmerman told Automotive News. “Strong flow of apps and originations. We’re very confident we’ll be above 2019 in the second quarter, and also the full year.”

Timmerman said Ally’s dealership partners also have reported record profits on vehicle sales and are impressed with their sales volume despite inventory hurdles related to the chip shortage.

“Obviously, not at the high inventory levels that they’ve had, or the inventory levels that they’d like, but they feel very good the second quarter’s going to be good,” he said, “and we share that confidence.”