JIM HENRY

Who's the No. 1 lender? Gimme an A …

Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive NewsJim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News
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Who's No. 1 in auto finance? It depends on who's doing the telling.

Wells Fargo & Co. said in its first-quarter conference call last week that its Wells Fargo Dealer Services is now "the industry's leading auto lender."

That will be news to Ally Financial Inc., which claims it's been No. 1 for the past two years.

According to Experian Automotive, Ally was No. 1 for U.S. new and used vehicles, loan and lease combined for calendar years 2011 and 2012. It was also No. 1 in U.S. new-vehicle finance volume in 2010.

There are asterisks to Wells Fargo's declaration. The company explained that its "leading auto lender" claim is for the 12 months ended February 2013 and that it doesn't include leases, which Wells Fargo doesn't offer.

Wells Fargo was No. 1 in used-vehicle financing in 2012, though, as well as No. 2 overall, Experian data show.

But the winner is still Ally.

You can reach Jim Henry at autonews@crain.com.

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