At a time when the auto industry is posting a 16-year low in sales, one automaker is offering "certainty in an uncertain time."
Under a new program from Hyundai Motor America, if you buy a car and can't make a payment after the first two because of "a life changing event," then within a year of the purchase date you can return it without taking a credit hit.
"The customer still will walk away with no problem on their credit report," said Kelly Kingsley of Hyundai of Santa Maria, Calif.
The company has a specific definition of "a life changing event," and it doesn't include a break up or the birth of a child. What they're referring to is the loss of a job by layoff (fired employees are not eligible), personal bankruptcy if you're self-employed, or getting transferred overseas.
"As far as we know, we're the first automaker to have a program like this one, that actually allows you to return the car with very few questions asked within the first 12 months of ownership," Krafcik told National Public Radio in a recent interview (listen here).
Noting that the company holds just 3% of the market share among American car dealers, he said Hyundai is still small enough to "be pretty nimble."
The company is operating on the belief that the program will help build its customer base and create return business. Even for those who don't end up needing the assurance program, the message it sends speaks volumes.
"You lose your job now, (the) economy picks back up, you get your job back, you're able to come back and get yourself another car," noted Kingsley.