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Hyundai Discontinues Job Loss Protection Program

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author photo by Autotrader April 2011

On Friday, April 1, 2011, Hyundai pulls the plug on their Assurance Program, an initiative that allowed customers to walk away from a financing obligation when “certain adverse life events occur.” The bottom line– if you bought a Hyundai and lost your job, you could turn in your wheels (with restrictions, of course).

The program was launched in 2009, soon after the Hyundai Genesis sedan won the 2009 North American Car of the Year in Detroit. This was the first time the prestigious award was given to a South Korean automaker. As a result, the automaker gained much needed recognition in the US.

But the idea for the buy back came way before all of that. The plan grew out of a focus group in October of 2008, conducted by Joel Ewanick, former VP of Marketing for Hyundai Motor America. “We realized that people were getting concerned about the financial situation for 2009. They weren’t buying cars because they didn’t know what was coming to them.”

 “We saw that the traditional tactics that car manufacturers use weren’t working,” he noted.

Hyundai pushed hard to come up with a plan that was totally out of the box. Lose your job and give back your new car?

“If you think about what we’re doing it sounds scary,” claimed Ewanick at the time. “But, we are actually elevating the brand.”

Hyundai unveiled the program at the Super Bowl in an ad called “Contract” that, as expected, created lots of buzz.

Advertising Age called it ‘an honest-to goodness big marketing idea.’ They said, “With the Assurance program, Hyundai confronts the recession head-on and does something tangible to tackle its effects... “

But it looks like the days of Hyundai’s buy back are over.

As noted in USA Today, Jim Trainer, Hyundai spokesperson said, “We took back about 350 cars over the life of the program, and it was beginning to taper off. It had outlived its usefulness and wasn’t drawing people to showrooms.”

According to Trainer, that’s a good thing. He suggests that the cut back speaks to signs of a recovering economy and improved consumer confidence.

By all reports Hyundai can rest easy. The company is showing strong sales increases in year-over-year comparisons. January’s numbers were record setting and February sales of 43,533 units were up 28 percent compared with the same period last year.

And while the program has been cut, the name stays. Hyundai will continue to use “Hyundai Assurance” to refer to its warranty and roadside assistance programs. 

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Hyundai Discontinues Job Loss Protection Program - Autotrader