BMW Group tops dealer finance satisfaction survey

Photo credit: BLOOMBERG

BMW Group Financial Services dominated nearly every category of J.D. Power’s 2014 U.S. Dealer Financing Satisfaction Study released this week.

If there were a “Most Improved” category, Ally Financial probably would have won it. Ally was No. 5 in the Prime Retail Credit category, up from No. 10 in last year’s study. Ally was also No. 5 in retail leasing, up from No. 7 last year. Ally’s score last year was below industry average in retail leasing.

J.D. Power and Associates, of Westlake Village, Calif., changed some of the survey questions in the latest study, so 2014 scores don’t compare precisely against previous years’ scores, Michael Buckingham, senior director of the auto finance practice at J.D Power, told Automotive News in a phone interview.

Ally crowed about its improved showing in a press release after the results were released on Monday. “Ally Financial is proud of the results of the J.D. Power study,” Jeffrey Brown, CEO of Ally’s dealer financial services unit, said in the release. On Tuesday, during a conference call about the lender’s second-quarter earnings, Brown said that the survey would help Ally make its case to sign up more dealerships.

“It certainly helps show other dealers what our capabilities are,” he said.

Win, place and show

Three units of BMW Group Financial Services -- Mini Financial Services, BMW Financial Services and Alphera Financial Services, which serves non-BMW brands for BMW Group dealers -- were Nos. 1, 2 and 3, respectively, in Prime Retail Credit, which is to say retail loans to borrowers with prime-quality credit. Mercedes-Benz Financial Services was No. 4.

In retail leasing, BMW Financial Services and Mini Financial Services were No. 1 and No. 2. Mercedes-Benz Financial was No. 3, and Ford Motor Credit Co. was No. 4.

Captive finance companies and automakers’ preferred lenders dominate the leasing category, since lease penetration increases as an automaker’s lease incentives increase, Buckingham said.

Laggards in leasing

Chrysler Capital, a private-label program under which Santander Consumer USA, of Dallas, provides financing for Chrysler Group dealers and car buyers, was in last place in prime-risk loans and next to last in retail leasing.

Captive finance company GM Financial, of Fort Worth, Texas, was next to last in prime retail credit -- a category in which GM Financial is barely present -- and near the bottom in retail leasing.

Both Santander and GM Financial historically were subprime loan specialists that only recently have beefed up their leasing and loans to customers with prime credit.

J.D. Power’s Buckingham said that the assigning of lenders to categories is up to the dealerships that fill out the surveys. Spokespersons for Santander and for GM Financial declined to comment.

The latest study was based on responses from 3,037 dealerships surveyed in March and April.

Subprime, floorplan

J.D. Power also compiles survey data on subprime lenders but doesn’t publish the detailed results for what it calls the “nonprime” category.

Buckingham said dealers rated BMW Financial Services No. 1 in nonprime, and Ford Credit No. 2.

Mercedes-Benz Financial and BMW Financial Services were No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in floorplan financing. Hyundai Motor Finance was No. 3.

Buckingham said it’s definitely an advantage in the survey for a lender to be a full-service lender providing all the major finance categories.

You can reach Jim Henry at

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