JIM HENRY

Ally CEO struts his stuff

Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News.
Ally Financial CEO Michael Carpenter would have a hard time with traditional GM corporate culture, where nobody makes waves. Carpenter, the former CEO of Citigroup's Global Corporate & Investment Bank, swaggered a bit in Ally's second quarter conference call on Aug. 3.

"Without Ally, there would not have been a recovery in the auto industry," he said. Sounding like former President George W. Bush, he invited competitors to "bring it on."

Carpenter forcefully declared Ally's independence from GM. But the feeling is mutual. GM is acquiring subprime lender AmeriCredit as the foundation of a new captive finance company.

GM sold a majority stake of GMAC (which became Ally) in 2006. But the former captive continued to mirror GM's buttoned-lip corporate culture. After seven months with Carpenter as Ally CEO, that's changing.

When Carpenter takes Ally public, will he say, "Mission accomplished?"

Bigger down payments, tougher F&I sell

Lending institutions are less likely to offer generous loans now than in the four previous years, as declining loan-to-value percentages show. F&I managers are keenly aware of the figures. Smaller loan amounts mean buyers must provide a bigger down payment. That makes it harder to finance F&I products as part of the loan.
Percent of a new-vehicle's value lenders are willing to finance
May 2010 (preliminary)87%
April 201088%
2010 Q1 avg.89%
200990%
200891%
200795%
200694%
200588%
Source: Federal Reserve

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