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Mazda names Chase Auto as dealer lender

Mazda North American Operations and Ford Motor Credit Co. are parting ways. Starting next month, Mazda will use Chase Auto Finance as its chief source of financial services to dealers and customers.

Chase will provide Mazda dealers with subvented retail and lease programs, Mazda CEO Jim O’Sullivan said in a Wednesday, Sept. 24, e-mail message to the company’s U.S. dealers. Mazda American Credit, a brand of Ford Credit, now provides those services.

“This action has mutual benefits in the tough business environment and tight credit markets that are challenging the entire industry,” O’Sullivan said.

Chase is the No. 3 auto lender in the United States, according to Experian Automotive’s AutoCount. Ford Credit is No. 5.

O’Sullivan insisted that the change of lenders does not affect Mazda’s broader relationship with Ford Motor Co. Ford owns 33.4 percent of Mazda Motor Corp. At the beginning of 2008, Mazda operated 662 U.S. franchises.

Customers who are currently financed through Mazda American Credit will continue to do business with Ford Credit, O’Sullivan said.

Ford Credit spokeswoman Brenda Hines says the change by Mazda will allow the captive “to focus on supporting the other Ford Motor Co. brands.”

Ford Credit provides financing to Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo dealers. Although Ford has sold Jaguar and Land Rover, the captive will finance those brands’ U.S. dealers through May 2009.

Mazda spokesman Jeremy Barnes said Chase initially will provide financial services to Mazda under its own name. Mazda may develop a new brand for its finance products, Barnes added.

A Chase spokeswoman did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

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