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JIM HENRY

A positive outlook for e-contracting

Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News.

When it comes to e-contracting, maybe the glass is finally more half full than half empty.

Consider that e-contracting accounted for 56 percent of U.S. contracts for Ford Motor Credit Co. in 2014, according to Joy Falotico, executive vice president of marketing, sales and the Americas at the captive. Meanwhile, Toyota Financial Services said in September it was on track to generate 65 percent of its contracts electronically in 2014.

Advocates for electronic contracting have complained for years about the slow pace of adoption, despite the obvious benefits. E-contracting reduces data-entry mistakes, speeds funding and ensures better compliance with regulations -- on top of eliminating tons of paper.

Cost and simple resistance to change lead the list of objections to e-contracting. A crazy quilt of state regulations also makes it hard to roll out an electronic document that can be used nationwide, with the fewest possible tweaks left to individual states. Dealerships also want online equivalents for related documents, not just the retail installment sales contract itself. That adds to the difficulty.

Nevertheless, adoption finally seems to have some momentum going into 2015.

You can reach Jim Henry at autonews@autonews.com

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