Buy Now, Return Later?

Hyundai offers aggressive program to snag customers

By Anne Reynolds
|  Tuesday, Jan 6, 2009  |  Updated 7:00 AM EDT
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Buy Now, Return Later?

Under Hyundai's Assurance program, customers who lose their job can sell their car back to the dealership.

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As expected, December brought dismal returns for the leading automakers.  Now Hyundai is taking an aggressive step to increase consumer confidence in buying a new car.

The automaker has rolled out a new "Assurance" program, that provides a kind of insurance to customers.  Under the plan, if a customer loses their job after buying a car, they can return the car to the dealership.

"There's a great deal of uncertainty right now in the economy and employment, and people are concerned about making a major purchase," Bill Cash with Fitzgerald Auto told News4.

There are conditions to the buyback offer; it is only good for the first year, and the buyer must make at least two payments.  Hyundai will pay up to $7,500 to buy back the car.

Hyundai's promotion comes after staggering losses for carmakers.  Chrysler sales were down 53% last month, Toyota sales were down 37% and Honda sales lost 35%.

Washington Post columnist Warren Brown says Hyundai's new "Assurance" program will be a good indicator of whether the auto industry can survive the economic downturn.

"If the Hyundai program doesn't move the consumer confidence meter toward the positive mark, then we really have a lot to worry about," Brown said.

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