Chrysler Financial has beefed up its commercial fleet operation to help dealerships win more fleet business.
The unit had consisted of four staff-members dedicated mainly to financing heavy-duty truck purchases. The renamed Business Vehicle Finance division will go after light-vehicle business, too. It will be staffed with 10 specialists in the field and 20 who will consult with dealers by phone.
The new division, which is being promoted at the convention, offers flexible financing arrangements to help dealerships woo commercial fleets.
It also is training dealership personnel to better serve commercial customers.
The division has an aggressive growth plan.
"With the new Dodge Sprinter we saw an opportunity for growth in the commercial segment," says Klaus Entenmann, vice president of Chrysler Financial. "Most of the Sprinter sales are commercial."
Chrysler Financial handled financing for just 375 commercial fleet vehicles in 2002 but aims for 30,000 in 2006. This year it hopes to finance 7,000 business or municipal vehicles.
The goal looks feasible in light of a successful pilot project last year that involved 30 dealerships, Entenmann says.
Chrysler Financial's commercial portfolio peaked at $22 million in outstanding loans and leases. The dealers in the pilot program reached $25 million in six months. The portfolio has since climbed to $129 million with 400 dealers participating.
Entenmann says the new division offers special lease terms to attract municipal fleets.
Uncommitted credit lines also are available. Entenmann says either a revolving account or a line with a specific ceiling has helped attract large fleet operators that don't want to fill out credit applications or go through financial investigations each time they replace a vehicle.
The special financial arrangements helped lure a 60-unit brewery fleet, a 150-unit municipal fleet, a police department with 400 cars and a corporation with a 600-vehicle fleet.
Says Entenmann: "Before we just sold onesys, twosys."