DETROIT -- Chrysler Group dealers now have another source, U.S. Bank, for vehicle leases, although Ally Bank remains the automaker's preferred lender.
The automaker announced the arrangement in an e-mail to dealers last week.
The company is offering leasing only on select vehicles using either finance source: the Chrysler 300 and Town & Country; the Dodge Charger, Grand Caravan, Journey and Nitro; and the Jeep Wrangler and Liberty.
"While Ally remains our preferred lender, this new relationship with U.S. Bank will now give your customers a choice in lenders and will continue to allow you to write your leasing deals at the most competitive rates and residuals available in the market today," the message said.
Ally has financed about 50 percent of all Chrysler Group's retail sales so far this year, according to a statement from the company.
The move comes a month after Ally Bank, which is Chrysler's preferred lender, announced it was opening leasing to a wider range of customers.
Ally lowered the FICO score threshold for lease customers from 660 to 620. A 660 score is on the lower end of prime credit, while a 620 score is on the upper end of subprime.
Chrysler has gradually been rebuilding its leasing business after it collapsed during the credit crisis of 2008. In 2006, when Chrysler Financial was still Chrysler's captive finance company, leases accounted for about 22 percent of the automaker's new-vehicle sales transactions.
After Chrysler Financial left the leasing business in 2008, along with most of Chrysler's lenders, the percentage of leases plummeted to under 1 percent of all sales by mid-2009.
Leasing has slowly come back since then, accounting for between 4 and 6 percent of Chrysler sales now.
Meanwhile, Chrysler's four brands continued most major incentive programs from August, including 0 percent financing for 60 months on some models. Jeep is now offering loans as low as 1.9 percent for 36 months to customers who finance their 2011 Grand Cherokees through Ally Financial.