Chrysler ramps up leasing


Chrysler Canada is back in the leasing game after unveiling a new national leasing program.

The Pentastar brand hasn’t had a leasing program since late 2008 when its previous captive finance company, Ally, lost the ability to fund a national program.

It should be noted that Chrysler Canada did respond with several strategies to ensure it could continue to offer its consumers low-monthly payment options including special offers through third-party leasing companies, special dealer in-house lease offers, and a program called Customer Choice Financing, launched in September 2010.

But Bill Levasseur, senior manager of retail sales operations for Chrysler, said the automaker is happy to again have the real thing. Levasseur took time out to tell Canadian AutoWorld Chrysler’s new leasing initiative.

Canadian AutoWorld: Why is this the right time for Chrysler to get back to leasing?

Bill Lavasseur: With the loss of our captive finance partner in 2009, we had to reinvent how we were going to ensure our dealers and consumers had the financial products available to meet their needs. From capital loans, wholesale lines, commercial lines and consumer loans, we had to start from scratch working with various financial institutions across Canada.
    We initially began building these relationships when leasing was at an all-time low point and there was very little interest for funding of leases in the Canadian market. As such we focused our efforts on the basic necessities and added products over time. 
    Today more than ever, there appears to be an increasing appetite for financial businesses wanting to discuss leasing opportunities in Canada. As such we began building a relationship with Westminster Savings and Credit Union (WSCU) and its leasing division, WS Leasing, on establishing a product in Canada.
    The timing was right and now we are excited to further develop our relationship with WSCU and our all-new lease offers.

What made Westminster the right partner?

We have established a good relationship with WSCU over the last year.     With introductory lease rates of 4.99 per cent we’re confident that we will continue to grow this business together in Canada as we further build our relationship.

Will leases be branded as Chrysler leases?
We’ve got a great arrangement today: We build cars and the finance companies finance cars. There are no current plans to brand this as a Chrysler lease product.

What kinds of leases will be offered?
Available terms and payment schedules are exceptional: Terms from 12 months through 60 months; Payment schedules can be monthly, bi-weekly and even weekly. This is a closed-end lease product that is similar to the lease offers we provided back in 2008.

How fast will you roll it out?
We’ve started to launch this product from West to East across Canada. With Westminster Savings and Credit Unit located in British Columbia, it made sense to start there and roll this out across Canada. We’ll be monitoring this program and look to further enhance the number of vehicles and provinces in the near future.

Will leasing help dealers source used vehicles?
We’ve been hearing for some time now from the auctions, our remarketing group and our dealers that quality pre-owned vehicles continue to be in tight supply. Not only is leasing another option for dealers to grow their sales and loyalty, but it is also an exceptional way to ensure they have a steady stream of incoming quality pre-owned vehicles.
    It would be very wise for dealers to start rebuilding their lease portfolio sooner rather than later to take advantage of all of the added benefits associated with leasing.

At one time, some brands’ leasing penetration was as high as 40 per cent. Now brands are taking a more cautious approach. What is your target penetration rate and why?

We have not set a lease penetration target. But you can be sure we will be extremely aggressive with vehicle sales. We have the best showroom we have ever offered.

Will you need to train, or re-train, dealership staff on lease financing?
We will be working with WSCU to ensure our retailers have the tools available to provide customers with the best financial solution to suit their needs. In fact several training sessions have already taken place in our Western Provinces with more training to occur in Ontario in late April.

Will you continue to offer the extended loan option? Or will leasing be your primary “low payment” option?

Extended term loans, Customer Choice Financing and lease offers all provide consumers with lower monthly payments. The key is to provide consumers with flexibility and choices that meet their needs. We have always and will continue to work with all of our finance partners on product innovations to ensure our consumers have the best financial options available to them.
    Payment is and always has been king to the Canadian consumer.