Newborn Chrysler Capital shows up at NADA

ORLANDO -- There are lots of young companies on the expo floor at the NADA convention pushing this product or that service to help dealers.

But as far as I can tell, there's only one so young that it ought to be wearing diapers.

Chrysler Capital, the new financing venture between Chrysler Group and Banco Santander SA, was officially born Wednesday, but won't begin actually lending money until May 1.

Still, like a newborn gazelle on the savannah, Chrysler's four-day-old preferred lender was apparently strong enough to get a booth up and running for the herd of Chrysler dealers headed its way here in Orlando.

Chrysler Capital replaces Ally Financial Inc. in the preferred lender role for Chrysler Group dealers, providing consumer auto loans, floor planning, and other financial services.

The deal earned Chrysler a big check and opened a large door for a Spanish bank that looks longingly at American consumers. Dealers, of course, will be free to keep their business with Ally, and many are likely to do so.

Fledgling Chrysler Capital will have to rely on more than a shared name to win business in a highly competitive lending marketplace, and if it gets too aggressive, it won't be Chrysler's balance sheet that suffers -- it will be Santander's.

Chrysler Capital, which was created on Wednesday, was still able to get a booth up at the NADA convention this weekend.

So if you're walking by the Chrysler Capital booth -- ironically located right next door to Chrysler Group's booth -- maybe give the newborn a little tickle under the cheek and a goochy-goochy-goo. After all, it's not an easy thing to bring a newborn to a convention.

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