Editor's note: The chart in this article has been updated to clarify Bank of America's partnership with Volvo's captive finance company.
Many dealers reward automakers' captive finance companies with their loyalty, in large part because captives have skin in the game.
Philadelphia-area dealer Dave Kelleher is nostalgic for those days, back when Chrysler had its own captive — Chrysler Financial.
"A true captive is interested in the car company succeeding. That's something you just can't replace with a private-label company," said Kelleher, president of David Auto Group, which sells Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram in Glen Mills, Pa.
Bank-based Santander Consumer USA has provided the former Fiat Chrysler, now Stellantis, with private-label captive-financing services since 2013 under the Chrysler Capital name. Kelleher said he does plenty of business with Chrysler Capital and likes that they're "pretty aggressive" at buying deals. But, "it's still not the same" as a captive, he said.
Kelleher said he's still grateful the former Chrysler captive took a risk on him when he started in 2005, putting "every single penny we had and another $2 million we borrowed," into a small Dodge dealership that needed renovating.
"The difference is, with a true captive, sure, they have a profit motive, but the good of the corporation probably wins out," he said. "In my case, I was a young manager at the time and I had saved up a little bit of liquidity, and Chrysler wanted me to be a dealer. Their captive was more interested in helping the company get a good dealer.
"Their motivation was to make sure I could make it work."
A white-label company, such as Santander, is mainly motivated by profits and must answer to shareholders, Kelleher said. "A captive has the same shareholders the OEM does," he said.