Job­less own­ers help

Hyundai con­sid­ers owner as­sur­ance scheme, writes NEILMcDONALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

AS­CHEME that lets own­ers keep their new cars af­ter they lose their jobs could be in­tro­duced in Aus­tralia. The Hyundai buy­back scheme has al­ready been a hit in the US, where un­em­ploy­ment has hit record lev­els.

The As­sur­ance Plus pro­gram means new Hyundai buy­ers can re­turn their car without a penalty if they are re­trenched.

The com­pany will also pay re­pay­ments for up to three months if own­ers are out of work.

The pro­gram has been largely cred­ited with bol­ster­ing Hyundai sales as the North Amer­i­can car mar­ket, par­tic­u­lar for the big three car­mak­ers — Gen­eral Motors, Ford and Chrysler — has col­lapsed.

Hyundai Aus­tralia gen­eral man­ager of mar­ket­ing, Oliver Mann, says he is very in­ter­ested in the idea.

‘‘There is no doubt Hyundai’s As­sur­ance Plus pro­gram has been a suc­cess in the US,’’ Mann says.

‘‘We are looking at the mar­ket en­vi­ron­ment here and the de­vel­op­ing eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion.

‘‘Hats off to our US par­ent though for kick­start­ing it.’’

How­ever, Mann and the com­pany’s Aus­tralian chief ex­ec­u­tive, Steve Yeo, be­lieve us­ing such a scheme here is still largely aca­demic be­cause the Aus­tralian car mar­ket is hold­ing up well.

‘‘Yes, the scheme is work­ing in North Amer­ica and it is in­no­va­tive,’’ Yeo says.

‘‘But I don’t think our Aus­tralian cus­tomers need it at present.’’

But Yeo says it was a big sales point of dif­fer­ence be­tween Hyundai and other US car­mak­ers.

Now even GM ex­ec­u­tives are warm­ing to Hyundai’s idea. They con­firmed this week they may copy the in­cen­tive plan, which could also spread to other car­mak­ers.

Ve­hi­cle sales in the US are down 40 per cent com­pared to the first two months of last year.

But Hyundai sales in the US are up 5 per cent while GM sales have slumped 51 per cent.

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