Ally Financial, General Motors' former finance arm GMAC, made a stunning comeback from the credit crunch, Experian's data show. As GMAC, it was the longtime leader but was passed by Toyota Financial Services in 2008. During the credit crisis the company had funding woes and it dropped to fifth place in 2009, reports AutoCount, a business unit of Experian.
But in 2010 the combined market share of Ally Financial and GMAC was a close second to Toyota Financial. AutoCount's list of the top lenders ranks Ally and GMAC separately as though they're separate entities. GMAC became a bank holding company in December 2008 and changed its name to Ally last year.
Credit unions, which kept lending and picked up market share during the credit crunch, dropped back to pre-crisis levels.
In 2010, credit unions as a group had 17.5 percent of all of the outstanding retail auto loans, down from a high of 22.2 percent in 2009, Experian reports. The figures include loans made directly to consumers as well as loans through franchised and independent dealers.
Credit unions had passed captive finance companies during the credit crisis. In 2009, captives had a 21.7 percent share of all the retail auto finance business excluding leases.
As a group, credit unions continued to lose ground in January 2011, falling to 16.0 percent of the new- and used- vehicle finance business, lower than their 16.9 percent share for all of 2007.
The decline came as credit unions faced competition from other lenders returning to the marketplace, says Joe Greenwald, vice president of marketing at CUDL in Ontario, Calif. CUDL, a brand of CU Direct Corp., is an online portal and software provider that promotes credit union loans through dealerships.
Greenwald says the 900 credit unions affiliated with CUDL are seeing auto loan volume climb. He says CUDL affiliates' lending volume went up 11 percent since January.
Auto loans are important to credit unions, he says, accounting for 29 percent of credit unions' total $572.4 billion loan portfolio.
And AutoCount reports that nearly a third -- 32 -- of the nation's top 100 lenders in 2010 were credit unions. The credit unions with the highest rankings were Navy Federal Credit Union, No. 28, and Security Service Federal Credit Union, No. 29.
The captive finance companies and banks, which as a group have the highest portion of the retail auto loans and leases, dominate the very top of the chart.
Toyota Financial Services was the nation's highest-volume auto lender overall in 2010, with 7.07 percent of the total retail auto finance business, including loans and leases for new and used vehicles, the AutoCount list shows. Chase Auto Finance was second with 5.74 percent.