Toyota Financial Services recently leaped over GMAC Financial services to take the lead as the biggest U.S. auto lender in terms of loan and lease contract volume. The study by AutoCount (a unit of the Experian Automotive company) estimates that Toyota captured 6.35% of the market from January through June, while GMAC had 6.2% for a close second place. Rounding out the top five were Chase Auto Finance, American Honda Finance, and Ford Credit (in that order).

As GMAC has made major cutbacks in leasing over the summer, many industry experts expect Toyota to hold its lead through the end of the year. A spokesperson from GMAC was quick to point out that the study did not include two wholly owned subsidiaries: Nuvel Credit and National Auto Finance. When those two companies are included, GMAC's share increases to 6.72 percent -- effectively placing them at the top again. While the automakers battle for the title position, the independent banks are the ones to watch. They've been steadily increasing their lending share as the Detroit 3 struggle with the rising costs of funds and declining credit ratings.

[Source: Automotive News, subs. req'd]