Santander Consumer USA is a leading company in the automotive finance sector. With its Drive®, RoadLoans and Santander Auto Finance brands, the company provides full-spectrum auto lead and lending programs on direct and indirect platforms. The company began originating loans in 1997, and is headquartered in Dallas. We are owned by global banking leader Banco Santander (NYSE: SAN), which was named “Best Bank in the World” by EuroMoney Magazine, and one of the “Top 10 Safest Banks” by Global Finance Magazine.
The company was founded by a group of young entrepreneurs within the auto industry. The group gained experience working in finance in auto dealerships, and in 1995 left the dealership environment to focus on the banking side of the industry. As a non-originator, the new company marketed the auto finance programs of various banks, gaining valuable perspective on the auto originations process.
The success of the group caught the attention of FirstCity Financial, and in 1997 the two entities merged, forming FirstCity Funding, a non-prime auto finance company with a unique business model serving a niche market.
In less than 18 months, the company grew quickly and again drew attention - this time from FirstCity Financial's largest investor group, HBOS plc. In 2000, another transaction was completed, and FirstCity Funding officially became Drive Financial Services. The stability and strength of HBOS plc allowed Drive® to surpass expectations and continue growing at a rapid pace.
In 2004, FirstCity sold its remaining shares in Drive, shifting ownership to HBOS plc and Drive Management, LP.
In 2006, HBOS plc and certain members of Drive Management LP sold their shares in the company to Banco Santander Centro Hispano SA (SAN).
Today, Santander Consumer USA remains one of the fastest-growing companies in the automotive finance sector.