New light-vehicle leasing increased in 2011 from a year earlier, to 20 percent of U.S. retail sales, according to the Manheim 2012 Used Car Market Report.
That's one percentage point higher than in 2010, according to the annual report released Saturday here. The figures exclude sales and leases to fleets.
The report credits the industry for getting leasing right, at least "for the most part," by targeting lease consumers with good credit who trade their vehicles on a regular cycle and projecting end-of-lease residual values that were not overly inflated.
Despite what it calls an industrywide "conservative approach" to leasing, the report says leases rose 17 percent to 2.1 million units in 2011. That was 85 percent higher than the 1.14 million leases written in 2009.
The report also notes that because fewer vehicles were leased during the recession, off-lease volumes will continue to decline this year. That decline is expected to contribute to tight supplies of fairly new, low-mileage used vehicles, which in turn should bolster used-vehicle prices.
Preliminary data show that the number of vehicles sold at National Auto Auction Association member auctions in 2011 declined 8 percent to less than 7.8 million units, the fourth straight year of declines, the report says.
Sales of vehicles that are off-lease, retired from rental fleets or owned by other commercial sellers sold at NAAA auctions fell "more than 20 percent" in 2011, while sales of dealer-owned vehicles increased 10 percent.
Dealer-owned vehicles made up 55 percent of all vehicles sold at NAAA auctions in 2011, up from 45 percent in 2010 and 40 percent in 2009.