National program that originated with the Michigan Credit Union League sells nearly 57,000 new General Motors and Chrysler vehicles in January and February.

Program began with GM and Michigan credit unions

Back in December, we wrote in an article about the partnership between General Motors and the credit unions located in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois that resulted in the “Invest in America” campaign. The program, which began on December 8th, enabled credit union members to purchase GM vehicles under the Supplier Discount program plus bonus cash on most General Motors vehicles.

December was also the month that GMAC, the captive finance company for GM, financed almost no vehicles until it received Federal funds at the very end of the month.

Chrysler jumps on board and the program goes national

Chrysler joined the program four days later and expanded their program nationwide in early January. Since that time, the nation's credit unions have played a major role in financing both GM and Chrysler vehicles. In the months of January and February, 56,916 vehicles from both manufacturers were financed through the “Invest in America” program, with February sales accounting for 31,916 of that total. While only credit union membership is a requirement for the discount – the vehicle doesn't have to be financed by a credit union – 80 percent of that total was financed through credit unions.

“These numbers show the potential that 'Invest in America' has,” said David Adams, Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) president and CEO. “The marketing efforts will broaden beginning in April. Many dealerships have received marketing kits and credit unions across the country continue to form new relationships everyday with local dealers.”

Over $1 billion in loans in February

According to MCUL, the February sales figures, alone, equate to about $1.4 billion in vehicle sales with an estimated $1.1 billion in credit union originations. So far in March, compared to 2008 levels, the share of auto loans has risen from 14 percent to more than 20 percent nationwide in 2009.

The Bottom Line

Here at Auto Credit Express, we said it in December and we'll say it again: even if you decide to finance your new car through a bank, being a credit union member and taking advantage of this program will save you money and grief. Because the price is fixed, you don't have to haggle with salespeople or drive from dealer to find the lowest price. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved and, if the sales figures say anything, it looks like it is helping both car buyers and domestic manufacturers.