RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. — CUDL officials announced this week that they're partnering with the creator of the "Invest in America" program, which is aimed at helping financing credit union members looking to buy vehicles from General Motors and Chrysler.

The partnership links CUDL and CUcorp, which rolled out "Invest in America" nationwide earlier this month. CUDL executives contend that the company will play an important role in promoting the program to its 700 credit union partners, which have a membership of 20 million.

CUDL already works with more than 9,000 dealers, and officials highlighted that resulted in $12 billion in credit union auto loans last year.

"We are very excited to be teaming with CUcorp in the promotion and advancement of the ‘Invest in America' program," noted Tony Boutelle, president and chief executive officer of CUDL.

"Our goal is to help the program through CUDL's ability to facilitate member loans at the dealership and to further advance credit union auto lending growth and market share," Boutelle added.

CUcorp, a marketing company and wholly owned subsidiary of the Michigan Credit Union League, worked with GM and Chrysler for the national rollout of "Invest in America." The automakers' partnership expanded regional pilot programs that now encompass almost 8,000 credit unions nationwide.

CUDL officials plan to promote awareness through their CUDL AutoSMART program. They went on to note that participating credit unions can also encourage members to use the program by special AutoSMART branded links on their Web sites. Members can use the links to research a CUDL inventory of 500,000 vehicles.

Participation in the "Invest in America" program does require car buyers to be members of a credit union. Historically, credit unions offer lower loan rates than an average bank, the automakers 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 with 6.9 percent for the average bank rate over past three months. 

"This partnership with CUDL will continue to push the ‘Invest in America' credit union member discounts out to consumers," explained David Adams, president and CEO of CUcorp. 

"It also expands GM and Chrysler dealership awareness and support for this important program.  The bottom line is increased auto sales and more affordable financing through this partnership. This is meeting a critically important need for automakers," he continued.

Officials indicated that more than 8,000 vehicles already have been purchased through the "Invest in America" program. It allows GM supplier price discounts on new Buick, Cadillac, Hummer, Saab, Chevrolet, GMC, Saturn and Pontiac cars and trucks.

For Chrysler products, the nameplate'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.

So consumers looking to take advantage of the "Invest in America" program, can visit www.lovemycreditunion.org. The Web site has information and more details about joining a credit union.

Site officials noted that hits spiked to more than 1.3 million since "Invest in America" became available nationwide.