BY DAN FREED
Wells Fargo is building more branches devoted to car loans and financing for auto dealers in an effort to increase its auto lending business without taking bad credit risk, the bank’s head of car lending told Reuters.
Making smart credit decisions is critical now as the auto lending business heats up. U.S. consumers have $1 trillion of automobile loans outstanding, up from about $700 billion in the first quarter of 2010, according to data from the New York Federal Reserve. That represents much steeper growth than credit card loans, which have remained essentially flat.
The fourth-largest U.S. bank has 56 branches for car and dealer financing, including one it recently opened in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, said Dawn Martin Harp, head of dealer services. The branches, called “regional business centers” serve car dealers exclusively.
The bank is planning to add more offices, including one in the Southwest by the end of the year, but has no specific number that it is targeting, Martin Harp said.
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