“It’s got a long way to go, but it’s directionally correct,” Porrello said. Huntington, already present in Michigan, has around 300 dealers signed up in the state, with a goal of reaching around 400 in the next year or so, he said.
“In 2008-2009, we saw many of our competitors getting out,” Porrello said. “Today we are seeing competitors becoming more aggressive in this space.”
To grow the Michigan business, the bank recently hired Brad Norman, a 30-year veteran of Chrysler Financial Services, where he was director of the company’s Great Lakes Business Center. Chrysler Financial Services is now TD Bank Auto Finance.
Huntington, based in Columbus, Ohio, is a prime-risk lender that focuses on indirect loans via dealers, although, like other banks, it does offer direct loans to consumers, Porrello said.
In 2010, the bank originated $3.4 billion in auto loans in 2010, an increase of $1.8 billion from 2009.
Nationwide, Huntington had only about a 1 percent market share of total U.S. auto loans in the fourth quarter of 2010, according to Experian Automotive. But that was enough to put Huntington among the Top 20 auto lenders in the country in both new and used cars. It also marked a share increase from the year-ago quarter, Experian said.
Huntington says it has the No. 1 market share in Ohio and Kentucky. The bank announced last fall it was expanding in eastern Pennsylvania and entering five New England states. Those moves, too, were prompted in part by other banks backing off from auto lending at the time, Huntington officials said.
Since the end of 2010, Huntington has signed up about 200 dealers in New England, Porrello said.