HANOVER, Md. — The National Automotive Finance (NAF) Association coined the term “below-prime” to describe the levels of funding in which its members are engaged.

"When the association was founded in 1996," says Marguerite Watanabe, president of Connections Insights and president of the NAF's board of directors, "there really was only prime and nonprime, but strata of funding have been defined since then."

Steve Hall, president of driversselect.com, a former president of NAF and head of the marketing committee, says, "Nonprime is too narrow now, but it is awkward to talk about nonprime, subprime, near prime, etc. when we describe our focus. Our members work in all funding levels below prime, and so that is the term we adopted."

The NAF marketing committee created a new tagline, “Driving Below-Prime Finance,” to describe the financing levels focused on by the association. "The new tagline is active, concise and spotlights the association's expertise,” Hall added.

The tagline is being adopted for use in all of the association’s communications. The new term will also be evident in marketing messages for the association's 14th annual conference, “Learn from the Below-Prime Finance Experts,” scheduled for June 9-11, 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas.

"The term describes the industry so well that it would not surprise us to see it adopted widely," says Jack Tracey, the association's executive director.

The NAF Association is the only trade association exclusively serving the below-prime auto financing industry. For more information, visit www.nafassociation.com.