July 29, 2021

McLaren taps Chase as private-label finance partner

British exotic automaker McLaren Americas has signed on with Chase Auto as its exclusive banking partner, both companies said Monday.

Chase will finance loans and leases for the automaker and is the banking partner through which the manufacturer disseminates customer incentives, according to the agreement.

The relationship will focus on McLaren’s leasing business, which is a key component of the automaker’s long-term strategy to open the brand to consumers at different price points.

McLaren had a corporate financial arrangement with J.P. Morgan Chase before inking this private-label agreement. Creating a customer-centric experience that would appeal to high-end clients was an important factor in selecting the lender for its financial services business, said Nic Brown, McLaren’s vice president of sales.

“We are always looking at unique experiences that we can offer [our customers] above and beyond the vehicle experience,” he said. “With Chase, it was really looking at — and aligning with — a partner that had that same vision.”

The deal is Chase Auto’s fifth private-label automaker agreement. The lender also partners with Maserati, Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin and Subaru.

Detroit lender Ally Financial Inc. managed McLaren’s leasing business for four years before the agreement expired last July. McLaren still maintains a relationship with Ally today, though the Chase relationship is deeper and covers a range of financial services outside of leasing.

Growing leasing opens the door for more consumers to sample the nameplate, though Brown said McLaren’s optimal penetration for leasing falls below that of other premium or luxury brands.

“As long as you stay within that sweet spot, when these vehicles come off of lease with relatively low mileage and really good condition, you have this certified pre-owned channel, which gives you a whole new segment of customers that you can bring into the brand and nurture at a different price point,” Brown said.

In 2016, leasing accounted for 18 percent of McLaren sales in the U.S. Today, that figure is between 35 and 39 percent, Brown said.

Vehicles start at about $200,000, while some limited-run models are priced at more than $1 million. McLaren, which has 25 U.S. dealerships, sold approximately 1,440 vehicles in the U.S. last year, down 21 percent from 2019. About one-third of those sales were leases, the company said.

McLaren is the second luxury automaker partnership for Chase since it lost the Mazda brand relationship to Toyota Financial Services. Chase Auto forged its first direct-to-consumer private-label automaker partnership with Rivian Automotive Inc. in January. The program is slated to launch ahead of expected June deliveries of Rivian’s all-electric R1T pickup.