LAS VEGAS - Chrysler Financial has beefed up its commercial fleet operation to help dealerships win more fleet business.
The unit previously consisted of four staff members dedicated mainly to financing heavy-duty trucks. The renamed Business Vehicle Finance division will go after light-vehicle business, too. It will be staffed with 10 specialists working in the field and 20 who will consult with dealers by phone.
The new division, which was promoted at last week's NADA convention here, offers flexible financing to help dealerships woo commercial fleets.
It also is training dealership personnel to better serve commercial customers.
"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 target 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. 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 ceiling has attracted 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 arrangements lured a 60-unit brewery fleet, a 150-unit municipal fleet, a police department with 400 cars and a company with 600 vehicles.