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JIM HENRY

What's in a name? For Ally, plenty

Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News

Now that Ally is the No. 1 auto lender, according to Experian Automotive, it's natural to think of it as the old GMAC "regaining" its position. I noticed at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention last month that a lot of dealers still call Ally "GMAC" out of habit.

But old GMAC, the captive finance company, is dead. Ally is a bank, and that affects how it goes to market in practical ways that directly affect dealers. For instance, Ally has said it's not interested in subsidizing leases for GM models with below-average residual values unless GM pays for it. A captive finance company would have had those negotiations with the parent company behind closed doors, but in the end the leases would have gotten done. Now, when GM says, "Jump," Ally the bank can respond "No way" instead of "How high?"

Not only that, Ally said recently it will go after business with brands other than its automaker partners, GM and the Chrysler Group. That means easier access to credit and greater competition among lenders, both positive news for retailers.

Ally has changed the game. It's time to call it by its own name.

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