NEW YORK -- Mercedes-Benz Financial Services is adding functions to its MBFS Mobile smartphone app, part of a growing effort by automakers and finance companies to reach customers through wireless services online and in showrooms.
Mercedes Financial adds price quotes to app
Now customers can:
- Get a quote: Provides a dealer price quote and an estimated monthly payment over the smartphone.
- Find a Mercedes-Benz dealer: Customers can get GPS-based directions to a dealership.
- Get reminders when their monthly payments are due.
Since launching the app in October 2009, Mercedes-Benz Financial has collected a total of more than $50 million in payments via all mobile devices, including the app, said Michael Kanzleiter, senior marketing manager for Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA in Farmington Hills, Mich. Kanzleiter spoke to the International Motor Press Association here last week
Payments through mobile devices more than doubled in 2011 to more than $38 million, Kanzleiter said.
Rival BMW Financial Services took a slightly different tack when it launched mobile bill-paying and other functions last year. BMW and Mini customers can use an Internet connection via their smartphones -- as opposed to an app -- to perform similar actions, like make payments and get account information.
The BMW captive also launched other apps that aren't strictly related to F&I, such as an app that allows BMW, Mini and BMW motorcycle customers to share their favorite driving routes.
Toyota Financial Services launched account-management apps for Toyota, Lexus and Scion owners in November 2011. Most big banks in auto lending, including Chase Automotive, Wells Fargo Dealer Services and Bank of America, also have mobile apps for general banking. They aren't specific to auto loans, but they allow customers to access account information and pay bills.
Kanzleiter says Mercedes-Benz Financial also is working on new functions for iPads to be used in U.S. showrooms. The captive introduced the use of iPads in mid-2010. Initially, the biggest use has been processing lease returns, Kanzleiter said.
BMW Financial Services also offers similar dealership functions via iPads.
In addition to lease returns, Mercedes-Benz Financial and Mercedes-Benz USA, the sales and marketing arm based in Montvale, N.J., have also made available iPad-based product information for F&I products such as extended-service contracts.
Said Kanzleiter: "While the customer is waiting, you can give them an iPad and they can see for themselves. For instance, there's a picture of the car and if you touch the [wheel] rim, it opens a text box to give you information on wheel-and-tire."
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