SANTA MONICA, Calif. — A week after adding a former dealer association exec to its management team, TrueCar announced that it has forged a relationship with SunTrust Bank to provide the bank’s customers with direct access to its auto buying service.

The SunTrust Auto Buying Service will be located at It will be made available to the bank’s existing customers.

"SunTrust prides itself on providing our clients with easy access to the best financial products and services available," said Jeff Hooper, head of consumer lending at SunTrust. "This partnership with TrueCar is a natural extension of our commitment by providing an easier auto buying experience along with SunTrust's attractive auto financing options."

On Monday, TrueCar issued a press release announcing the addition of Pat Watson to its management team. The former executive vice president and CEO of the South Carolina Automobile Dealers Association will oversee all relationships with dealer association at the national, state and metro level.

“I have an immense amount of respect and admiration for the team at TrueCar and the innovative service they have built to benefit dealers and consumers alike,” Watson said. “I look forward to working with ATAEs (Automotive Trade Association Executives) across the country in an effort to create relationships that will further advance the understanding and value of TrueCar’s service and vision.”

Watson’s appointment comes after TrueCar’s business model came under fire from state dealer associations, state regulators, dealers and a group of dealer advocates led by the magazine’s columnist Jim Ziegler. “TrueCar is committed to partnering with and serving dealers. Having Pat join our team is symbolic and extremely meaningful,” said Scott Painter, founder and CEO of TrueCar. “His is a true advocate for dealers and will help TrueCar stay focused on making sure that our dealer partners’ needs are met.”

As for the company’s new relationship with SunTrust, Bernie Brenner, chief strategy office for TrueCar, said: “SunTrust is one of the most respected companies in financial services. This partnership expands the range of services for their clients. We look forward to helping their clients enjoy a hassle-free car buying experience."