LANSING and DEARBORN, Mich. — Both General Motors and Chrysler announced this week that they are going national with their "Invest in America" credit union partnership to get more customers behind the wheels of domestic vehicles.

GM announced Wednesday that it is launching a nationwide pilot of the discount program, while Chrysler is simply doing a national expansion.

As for GM, this national pilot follows a four-state Midwest program that began in early December. Basically, the program is designed to offer 90 million credit union members throughout the country access to GM's "Credit Union Member Discount Program" at participating GM dealers as well as access to affordable financing on new-vehicle purchases.

The expanded "Invest in America" program now encompasses nearly 8,000 credit unions nationwide and makes a credit union member discount available for eligible new-vehicle purchases as well as more than $80 billion in credit union low-cost auto loans, according to GM.

The national pilot program, running through March 31, offers GM supplier price discounts on new Buick, Cadillac, Hummer, Saab, Chevrolet, GMC, Saturn and Pontiac cars and trucks. 

"We've had very positive responses from our dealers to the four-state Midwest credit union pilot that is currently running," explained Mark LaNeve, GM vice president, North America sales, service and marketing. 

"This national pilot really expands the benefits of a great GM supplier price to credit union members all around the country who also have access to affordable financing through their local credit union," he added.    

Historically, credit unions offer lower loan rates than an average bank, the automaker pointed out. In fact, according to a Datatrac survey of more than 17,000 financial institutions, the average credit union loan rate is 5.4 percent compared to 6.9 percent for the average bank rate over past two months. 

While credit union members can use this discount with any financing source, GM officials said they believe that local credit unions offer very competitive financing rates.

The details about GM's "Credit Union Member Discount Program," can be found at The Web site has apparently generated more than a million hits since the program launched in early December.

"Credit unions have billions to lend, which in this economy, makes the ‘Invest in America' program very timely for General Motors," pointed out David Adams, president and chief executive officer of the Michigan Credit Union League and CUcorp. 

"The exclusive credit union member discounts will create a compelling opportunity for the 90 million credit union members nationwide. With a great response from credit union members in the four Midwest states, building this program out so every credit union member can take advantage of the GM discounts makes perfect sense," he continued. 

The original pilot "Credit Union Member Discount Program," which covers Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio will run through the end of June. 

The "Invest in America" program was created through an arrangement between GM and CUcorp, a marketing company based in Livonia, Michigan and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Michigan Credit Union League. 

Chrysler Also Goes National with Credit Union Deals

Also organized by the Michigan Credit Union League, Chryler's credit union partnership allows members who finance the purchase or lease of a new vehicle through a credit union to receive a "Credit Union Member Cash" discount of $500 or $1,000 on nearly all Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles. This discount is in addition to most existing cash incentives that Chrysler offers on its vehicles.

"Chrysler joined the 'Invest in America' program in December as a pilot initiative, and the result was a significant sales lift in the participating states," noted Steven Landry, Chrysler's executive vice president of North American sales, marketing and Mopar Parts and service.

"Financing is a critical concern right now, and the program provides considerable value to our credit union customers and the economy. We are glad that we are now able to offer it nationally," he continued.

Approximately 8,000 credit unions, including the UAW Credit Unions, will participate in the "Invest in America" program, allowing access to $80 billion in auto loans. Nearly 90 million customers will be eligible to take advantage of the discounts and low-cost financing.

The program is scheduled to run through June 30. To gain access to the discount, eligible credit union members must finance their purchase or lease through their credit union.

"The 'Invest in America' partnership is very timely for domestic automakers," said Adams of the Michigan Credit Union League and CUcorp. "The exclusive credit union member discounts, along with credit union financing, creates a great opportunity for 90 million credit union members nationwide to purchase a new vehicle.

"The traffic on the Web site in four weeks has been overwhelming. Consumers are looking for new vehicles and we hope with credit union credit available they can now purchase those new cars and trucks," he added.