PHOENIX -- DriveTime, a chain of used-car dealerships catering to consumers with credit problems, plans to expand to 100 locations by the end of 2006, according to the Arizona Republic newspaper.

DriveTime operates 75 dealerships, primarily in southwestern United States as well as Florida, Georgia, and Virginia. DriveTime, Arizona´s largest Hispanic-owned firm, expects 2004 revenue of $760 million, up from $729 million last year. The company expects to sell 49,500 cars this year and projects 56,000 sales in 2005. The project boost stems from the newest dealerships, said Ray Fidel, president and chief executive officer.

The 2,100-employee firm expects to add 550 workers to its payroll with the expansion.

DriveTime´s potential customer base continues to grow. The company targets customers with credit problems, including bankruptcies, repossessions, and other financial issues. Personal bankruptcy rates are waning nationwide, but they are falling from the highest rates ever seen, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.

DriveTime operates the nation´s largest in-house financing arm for used cars. All customers receive a 90-day warranty and a car history report. Fidel said DriveTime´s "ideal" car is roughly 3 years old and has 45,000 to 65,000 miles.

The company formerly was known as Ugly Duckling Corp., before it changed its name to DriveTime in 2002. In early 1992, founder Ernie Garcia bought a majority of publicly traded shares and took the firm private. Garcia, now chairman, owns 85 percent.