Auto banks slowly opening up

Munich. Automakers' own banks are well-positioned to service their own brands, but they have failed so far to develop a business that includes other brands.

"Their multi-brand strategy is a complete flop," said Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, professor at Gelsenkirchen college.

Independent specialized banks are clearly in a better position with regard to multi-brand business, he said.

A poll by Automobilwoche of a number of car-manufacturer-owned banks indicates that this situation will change only slowly. Carmakers' finance units intend to primarily finance their own brands' dealers.

"Authorized auto dealers will remain our main business," said Klaus-Dieter Schuermann of Volkswagen Financial Services.

He said that the founding of the Europcar Bank as a VW Bank subsidiary in 2002 was a supplement to the existing brand-specific core business.

Almost all manufacturer banks try to branch out into multi-brand business in the medium term.

DaimlerChrysler Bank director Roland Folz believes the higher the level of integration between manufacturers, dealers and banks, the more loyal dealers will be to their financial-services provider.

Hans-Juergen Cohrs of BMW Bank said:"If BMW Group brand dealers go towards multi-branding, we will assist them selectively."

But his colleague Gebhard Ratz from GMAC Bank draws a clear line: "We will only work with Opel or GM dealers."

Specialized automotive banks such as CC-Bank, Frey Financial Services (FFS), Bank Deutsches Kraftfahrzeuggewerbe or GE Money Bank traditionally do business across all brands.

FFS boss Rudolf Wohlfarth: "We are positioned in a way that allows us to add further products or dealer groups at any time."

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