Moving with unusual speed to outpace its competitors, GMAC has set an early 2001 national rollout date for its streamlined "MAPS" procedure of clearing loan and lease applications.

A 15-member dealer advisory council of GM dealers is being installed as a prelude to the rollout. Pilot programs will begin in late 2000 at a group of dealerships.

The council will consist of three dealers from every one of GMAC's five regions, according to David L. Jones, a GMAC vice-president.

He emphasizes that input will be sought from retailers of all volume levels and all nine GM brands, including Saturn and Saab.

MAPS stands for Mechanized Application Processing System. Mr. Jones, whose staff has been developing the new system since 1998, says goals are "customer-focused and readily attainable, once the electronics have been put into place.

He adds, "We intend to reduce approval rates to two days or less on average, and in turn reach an average rejection rate of 5%."

GMAC at its 11th annual National F&I Conference detailed the widely awaited upgrading of GMAC's application processing.

F&I managers attending the conference in Scottsdale, AZ, agree that GMAC had fallen behind competitors in the speed with which applications are handled. They say GMAC has a higher rate of rejections that causes competitors to gain the financing business or applicants to go to other brands of vehicles.

"GMAC has made all their incentives and financing options available on their EAD (Electronics Acquisition and Discounting) data base since last December," says conferee Jon Boam, F&I manager of Don Mealey Chevrolet, Orlando, FL.

He adds, "But they have been too conservative on approving and responding to apps in the age of electronics. Hopefully, MAPS will bring about faster action, because they have been much too cautious in the past."

Mr. Jones said all Dealer Service Providers (DSPs) of electronics systems - ADP, Reynolds & Reynolds and UCS - are cooperating in the MAPS initiative, which encompasses "easier to understand" loan and lease contracts.

He advised Dennis Lademan, F&I manager at Stockburger Chevrolet, Newtown, PA, that loan applications in the "C-tier" had admittedly encountered approval delays. But he says that with MAPS, GMAC hopes to reach a 70% "yes" rate in the same quick time frame that most A-tier and B-tier vehicle purchasers enjoy.

GMAC's subprime subsidiary, Nuvell Credit Corp., based in Little Rock, AR, will mesh with MAPS, according to Mr. Jones, who indicated that dealer requests for more Nuvell field personnel will be met.