FRESNO, Calif. (2/11/09)--Educational Employees CU (EECU) will begin offering car loans Thursday with interest rates as low as 2.99%, which is several percentage points below the national average. The promotion ends Feb. 20. The deal offered by the Fresno, Calif.-based credit union includes the following conditions: the low rate is good solely in Merced, Calif.; the rate applies only to 2006 model vehicles or older; and members have to qualify to obtain the rate (Mercedsun-star.com Feb. 10). The rate applies for new purchases or refinances, and the credit union is offering 100% financing, EECU told the newspaper. It’s a good development to see financial institutions getting aggressive with auto financing because many banks are not lending or they’re just waiting while matters get worse, Perry Robinson, general sales manager at Merced Volkswagen Kia, told the paper. Several car buyers already had visited Robinson’s dealership Monday after the new rate was announced, Robinson added. EECU has $1.746 billion in assets.