GE Aligns FUNancing With OEMs

Publish Date: 
Dec 2, 2008
By Arlo Redwine

FOR YEARS, MANY dealers — franchised and independent — have made good use of GE Money’s FUNancing credit cards and installment loans. But most of these dealers lost the programs Nov. 1. The financing giant has allowed only stores with certain franchises — card partners or installment partners of GE — to keep the programs.

GE doesn’t divulge its partners, but Dealernews has identified some of them through conversations with dealers. Card partners are KTM, Piaggio, Moto Guzzi, E-Ton and Universal Trailers. Known installment partners are Big Dog, Lehman Trikes, Saxon Motorcycles, Swift Motorcycles, Thunder Mountain Custom Cycles and various trailer brands. Dealers keeping the installment program can keep the card only if they also carry a revolving partner.

GE says its remaining FUNancing dealers can finance only new and used powersports units made or distributed by its partners. Installment loans are for installment partners; card loans are for card partners. There are three exceptions to the revolving program: new and used trailers, scooters and dirtbikes that are listed in the NADA guide or Kelly Blue Book (excluding trailers). The program will go back five years for scooters and dirtbikes, 10 years for trailers.

The minimum amount that can be financed on the card for a vehicle is $500 or greater, depending on the brand. The minimum for installment loans is $2,500 or greater.

GE has also limited standalone accessory purchases on the card to $500 per day. Dealers are getting around the limitation by writing multiple tickets and processing them on separate days.

In an e-mail to Dealernews, GE Money states: “GE has been providing consumer financing for over 70 years, and our underwriting has evolved to reflect the reality of individual markets. As the environment improves, we anticipate adjusting our criteria accordingly. We have visited a number of dealers, spoke with owners and associates, and made every effort to clearly communicate the actions we are taking so our business partners can plan accordingly.

The statement continues: “Taking these prudent steps now underscores our commitment to being a sustainable partner long-term, minimizes consumer exposure and protects the viability of our programs. These adjustments are designed with one goal in mind: to ensure that we, and our OEM partners in the powersports market, weather this economic storm and emerge strong together.”

Earlier this year GE Capital said it would no longer offer retail financing to the marine industry. GE’s powersports partners that sell personal watercraft were exceptions.

DEALER IMPACT
Many large multiline dealerships hardly ever used FUNancing to begin with. “We’ve done a couple of contracts with them, but not much. They have never bought anybody that the manufacturers wouldn’t buy,” says Jeff Johnson, co-owner of MidAmerica Motoplex in Sioux Falls, S.D. (Continued)