Jobless owners help
Hyundai considers owner assurance scheme, writes NEILMcDONALD
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.