Kawasaki Signs Multi-Year Agreement With Citi Retail Services

dscn3570Kawasaki Motors Corp. USA announced a multi-year agreement with Citi Retail Services yesterday, which will provide dealers with another financing option for their customers — a private-label credit card program.

Customers will be able to apply for credit through an authorized Kawasaki dealership, according to a press release. The OEM will begin contacting Kawasaki dealerships in early January to begin the enrollment, activation, and training processes, according to a dealer memo shared with Powersports Finance. Kawasaki first informed its dealers of a new program on the horizon in late November.

Kawasaki’s program with Citi begins Feb. 1, directly following the expiration of its current revolving credit program with Capital One Financial Corp. The last day CapOne will accept any new applications for its current program — Kawasaki Good Times Credit Card — will be Jan. 31, and the last day the bank will authorize additional purchases on existing accounts is April 30. The last day for settlement is May 31.

Rewinding to August 2015, Capital One told its OEM partners — Kawasaki Motors Corp., Polaris Industries Inc., Bombardier Recreational Products Inc., and Yamaha Motor Corp. — it would gradually reduce its investment in powersports financing. Yamaha Motor Finance Corp. launched the Yamaha Credit Card program on Nov. 1. Polaris and BRP have not announced their plans for a revolving credit program or partnership yet.

Citigroup Inc. has quietly been assembling the talent and building the infrastructure needed to operate the revolving credit program in the powersports market throughout much of this year. The bank had several listings on its online job board in August for field sales representative positions — specifically for powersports dealers. The job listings stated that candidates would work with Citi Retail Services — Citigroup’s subsidiary that provides private-label and co-branded credit cards — to develop and manage dealer relationships.

“The demand is strong for revolving credit because it is an easy product for our dealers and our consumers to use,” Bill Jenkins, Kawasaki’s senior vice president of sales operations told Powersports Finance at the New York Progressive International Motorcycle Show.

CapOne allowed customers to use the card, after they purchased a product, to buy accessories, service, add-ons, and even an additional vehicle if they have sufficient credit available, Jenkins said. The new program will be very similar to CapOne’s, he added.

“We are excited to partner with Kawasaki, and we look forward to furthering our leadership in the dealer distribution market space,” Craig Vallorano, head of Citi Retail Services, said in the press release.

Foothill Ranch, Calif.-based Kawasaki was projected to sell 113,000 units this year, according to the OEM’s website.

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