EVEN AS MANY BANKS retreat from the auto lending business, NationsBank is charging boldly forward.

It's a brave strategy, given that the enemy forces on this battlefield are none other than the giant finance units of General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., and Chrysler Corp. In fact, the Big Three automakers are expected to increase their share of U.S. auto loans to 36% this year, while commercial banks' share is expected to fall for the first time to 36%, down from 44% two years ago.

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