The market for vehicle inventory financing -- or floorplan -- is slowly thawing.
With the help of federal aid, the credit markets are coming back to life, providing auto lenders funds to make commercial loans.
But many floorplan providers are cool to new accounts unless the dealer has an existing relationship with them or offers business beyond floorplan to the financial company. Some lenders say they'll reject a request for a free-standing floorplan line.
"We want your mortgage, your retail business, your checking account, as well as your floorplan," said Tom Wolfe, president of Wachovia Dealer Services. "We want as big a relationship as we can get."
Jim Evans, a former AutoNation Inc. executive, recently took over a BMW-Volvo-Volkswagen dealership in Dayton, Ohio. Evans says he obtained a floorplan line for Evans Motorworks only because of his prior relationship with Bank of America.