LANSING, Mich. (3/23/09)--The Invest in America campaign closed about 32,000 vehicle sales in February, on top of 25,000 in January, for a total of 57,000 sales in the two months since the program went national. Invest in America is credit unions’ auto loan discount program with auto manufacturers General Motors Corp. (GM) and Chrysler Corp. The program started in December with a four-state pilot program for GM and a 12-state pilot for Chrysler. The campaign includes contractual credit union member incentives from GM and Chrysler. GM is offering supplier pricing, which averages about $1,500 per vehicle, with its Credit Union Member Discount, and Chrysler is offering $500 or $1,000 rebates through its Credit Union Member Cash program. The nationwide program is on a 90-day pilot with GM and a 180-day pilot with Chrysler. All 7,800 U.S. credit unions are eligible to participate in and market the program to their nearly 90 million credit union members. Collectively, U.S. credit unions have about $160 billion in capital to lend. About 70% to 80% of the 57,000 sales were financed by credit unions, estimated David Adams, CEO of CUcorp and president/CEO of the Michigan Credit Union League, in a conference call Friday. “Those sales are coming during the toughest months of the year,” Adams said. “We’re confident that credit unions are making a significant impact in the auto industry when it really matters.” So far, support for the program has come from more than 1,000 credit unions nationwide, and 40 state credit union leagues and associations support it. Credit unions’ share of auto loans rose to about 25% in January, compared with 14.8% in March of 2008, Adams added. Invest in America is a “natural” due to the collective customer bases of credit unions and General Motors (GM), Mark Degnan, GM director of local advertising and marketing, said during the conference call. “Credit unions have loyal customer bases and that has helped us gain customers through Invest in America,” he said. “It’s been a [beneficial situation] for GM, credit unions and dealers by adding additional credit capacity for consumers.” A strong percentage of the program participants appear to be first-time buyers. About 66% are either buying a GM vehicle for the first time, or are former GM customers who left and now have come back to purchase a GM vehicle through the program, Degnan said. Also, five of the 10 largest U.S. credit unions have begun to market the program, including: Navy FCU, Vienna, Va.; Suncoast Schools FCU, Tampa, Fla.; The Golden 1 CU, Sacramento, Calif.; Ent FCU, Colorado Springs, Colo.; and State Employees CU, Raleigh, N.C.