WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J. — To mark the company's entry into the direct-to-consumer lending business, BMW Group Financial Services announced today the launch of www.up2drive.com, an auto financing site that features loan services designed to empower the consumer in the car buying and selling process.

The launch of www.up2drive.com and the entry into the direct-to-consumer lending sales channel are part of what BMW Group Financial Services called its strategy to expand its core business beyond the traditional role of a captive finance company in order to reach more consumers.

"With our new online venture, we can now offer to all automotive finance customers, regardless of the type of car they're looking to buy or sell, the same BMW best-in-class customer service and financing options previously offered only to BMW owners," explained Shaun Bugbee, president of up2drive.com.

"Online automotive financing is a large and growing market, and our core competencies make the direct sales channel a logical evolution for our business. By giving car buyers more control of their automotive financing options, up2drive will alleviate some of the stress of purchasing and financing a car and will help get people behind the wheel more easily than before," Bugbee continued.

Potential buyers can apply and be approved for a loan via the site and use up2drive.com's loan service, the up2drive drive check, to negotiate with sellers as if they had cash on hand, officials pointed out.

The site was designed to help shoppers determine not only what kind of car they want to buy, but also how much they want to pay and, ultimately, what their monthly payments will be, according to the lender. 

Selling a Vehicle

In addition to up2drive.com's loan services, the site also offers a variety of tools designed to simplify the vehicle selling process, executives noted.

Using the up2drive payment estimator, customers can calculate an estimated monthly payment for their vehicle. All they need to do to accomplish this is enter the year, make and model of a vehicle to determine an appropriate vehicle sale price, which they can then show potential buyers as a financed monthly payment, the company explained. 

"Consumers are becoming more educated about auto finance options, so we're excited to be able to offer them innovative selling options they can't find anywhere else," Bugbee said.

"For the first time, private individuals can represent the selling price of their vehicle as a financed monthly payment, similar to the way dealers advertise their vehicles. Most auto finance companies focus exclusively on the buyer but disregard the seller," the executive continued.

"With more than 6 million individuals seeking to sell vehicles privately, up2drive.com's patent-pending approach of targeting both buyers and sellers has the potential to impact the automobile sales cycle," Bugbee added.

Once the seller has determined an appropriate sale price, up2drive.com can allow them to create, free of charge, an "up-4-sale" sign, which the seller may save, print and post inside a vehicle or in any auto classified Web sites or print publications.

By advertising the vehicle's sale price as a monthly payment, officials said the buyer can easily understand how purchasing a vehicle with financing fits within their monthly budget.

A potential buyer who views the "up-4-sale" sign can note the vehicle ID (found on the sign) and visit the up2drive.com Web site to apply for immediate financing to purchase the unit, executives highlighted.

As Cerberus, a private equity group, redefines the landscape of the auto industry on the domestic side through its deals with Chrysler and GMAC, it appears BMW has decided make it owns move to better reflect the changing marketplace.