Apparently, the recession is all in our heads.
Hyundai motors has largely escaped the fate of its competitors in recent months, posting narrow sales losses or small sales gains each month while its competitors often saw sales slip by a third. Many analysts credit the automaker's unique Assurance Plus program for the success. The program allows buyers to return their new Hyundai, with no negative impact on their credit report, if they lose their income in the first year of ownership. In some circumstances, Hyundai will also make up to three payments on the buyer's behalf while the buyer searches for a new job.
So far, no one has taken advantage of the benefit.
Speaking to Kicking Tires, "Hyundai spokesman Dan Bedore confirmed that so far no one has used the program. It's still early in the plan's lifecycle and final March figures have not come in, but the fact that no buyer has taken advantage of it says that at least the 55,133 people who bought a Hyundai this year probably still have their jobs."
Autoblog comments, "An incentive program isn't successful just because it sells more vehicles. The value of the incentive to the automaker goes down the more it cuts into the profit of each vehicle sold...So, at this point, the incentive program has been a home run idea that's sold more cars but effectively cost Hyundai nothing. Of course, that could all change if within the next year our economy turns into Great Depression II and Hyundai owners begin returning their vehicles en masse. Until then, however, Hyundai will likely continue to enjoy a better sales performance each month than its competition."
The program may simply be attracting financially responsible buyers to Hyundai dealerships. Consumerist comments, "The easiest conclusion is that none of the buyers have lost their jobs. But perhaps it just means people who are financially secure enough to be in a position to buy a new car got there by making secure bets, so they would gravitate towards a program that provides buyer protection. While on the face of it The Hyundai Assurance program looked like a way to help the financially shaky, maybe it was really a way to draw the safe money from the sidelines."
And, we should note, Hyundai is engaging in some gamesmanship by making the announcement that no one has needed the program. Hyundai Assurance was launched in January - it's not even 90 days old. Under the terms of the plan, buyers must make their first two months' worth of payments to become eligible - so no one has been eligible to claim benefits for long. Still, as Hyundai's competitors watch their sales slip, the Assurance Plus program just keeps looking smarter.