Chrysler Close to Sign Deal With Preferred Lender image

Chrysler is close to signing a deal with a financial services provider that promises to increase leasing for dealers.

Chrysler’s CEO Sergio Marchionne did not give the name of the financial services provider with which it will soon sign a deal. The Wall Street Journal, relying on anonymous sources, said that the provider is Spain’s Banco Santander, which will replace Ally Financial and become the main lender to customers and dealers.

Last week, at the Detroit auto show, Marchionne said that this deal will give Chrysler dealers the possibility to boost customers’ leasing options and therefore increase vehicle sales by allowing more buyers to qualify for financing.

“We understand that there’s a piece of the market that we’re not currently accessing,” Marchionne said. “Whether we do it directly or 100 percent through a provider or in a combination with other sources, it really doesn’t matter. But we’ll be there.”

Marchionne said several times that Chrysler does not need a captive finance arm in order to increase sales, and that the automaker will focus on making profitable cars instead of making profit from auto financing. It seems that the CEO has changed his mind when he announced last week that the new lender might even have Chrysler in its name and operate mostly the same way as other automakers’ in-house lenders.