GM looks to boost sales to ’subprime’ buyers

By Associated Press
Posted June 23, 2010 at 2:12 p.m.

General Motors Co. is looking to boost auto sales by lining up banks and other financial institutions to make loans and lease deals for buyers with poor credit.

The talks lessen the likelihood of GM trying to buy the auto finance business from Ally Financial Inc., its main lender. They also make it less likely that GM would start its own auto financing unit.
GM considered both options earlier in the year because Ally was reluctant to fund loan and lease deals to buyers with subprime credit. About 16 percent of loans for new cars and trucks went to subprime buyers in the fourth quarter of last year, but because of Ally’s reluctance to lend to them, GM could not tap that market.

Subprime buyers have credit scores below 620 on a 300-to-850-point scale.

“We are developing relationships with other financial sources on a selective basis for specialized financing needs, such as leasing and subprime financing.” GM spokeswoman Renee Rashid-Merem said Wednesday.

GM continues to work with Ally, which used to be GMAC Financial Services, and it has relationships with many banks and credit unions, Rashid-Merem said.

The automaker’s sales are up about 15 percent through May, but they trail the increase for the overall U.S. industry by more than 2 percent.  Ford Motor Co. has seen its sales rise 30 percent from the first five months of last year.

Mark Reuss, GM’s North American president, said in an interview last month that GM would like to tap into the subprime credit market to help lift sales. He said GM gets only 1 percent of its sales from subprime buyers, while Honda Motor Co. gets about 20 percent because of better access to lending.

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