F&I is different north of the border, especially for Fiat Chrysler dealers.
At Wellington Motors in Guelph, Ontario, Mike Woods, vice president and a third-generation dealer, is still basking in the glow of Fiat Chrysler’s having been the No. 1 selling automaker in Canada for the first time ever in 2015.
But it wasn’t easy. FCA doesn’t have a captive finance arm in Canada, which severely restricts the company’s lease options there.
Woods spoke with Automotive News Staff Reporter Jennifer Vuong about the financing issues his dealership faces.
Q. What was it like when Fiat Chrysler was working to be Canada’s top sales leader?
I think the most impressive thing about Chrysler’s success [last] year is that they’ve done it essentially without leasing, which seven to eight years ago, we were leasing 40 to 50 percent of all the vehicles that we did. We were very good at it, at our dealership and as a corporation. I mean we’re fighting with one hand tied behind our back, so to speak, until leasing really does come back.
Do you expect leasing to come back?
It’ll come back in a different form. It will never be like it was.
How much is leasing part of your business?
Well, at our store now, we’re down below 5 percent. We’re essentially doing very little leasing. I think in the States, Chrysler probably has found the capital in the capital markets to get back into leasing. Here in Canada, that’s been a little more of an issue for them. And, I think, Chrysler is looking every single month to find that partner, now that there’s no Chrysler Financial. They want to lease as badly as the dealers do. It’s a great business.
I remember Chrysler Canada saying to us that in the day Chrysler Financial never lost money on their lease portfolio. So I think it was good business here in Canada. They did it well. I mean, there’s always mistakes that were made. But I think they want to lease. We could do so much more if we were able to lease.