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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lose your Job? Return your Hyundai

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, California — Hyundai Motor America has introduced what it calls an "unprecedented program" designed to take the uncertainty out of buying or leasing one of its vehicles during these rocky economic times. The program allows a consumer to return the vehicle if they suffer an "involuntary loss of income within 12 months of the purchase date."

"We understand consumers' hesitance to commit to large purchases in today's economic environment," said John Krafcik, acting president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America. He described the new program as an offshoot of Hyundai's warranty program, but one that now covers "consumers' employment status and personal finances."

The program has minimal strings attached. Hyundai said participants must have made at least two scheduled payments on their loan or lease, be current on all payments and pay for any outstanding balance above the $7,500 benefit amount. The consumer returns the vehicle to the dealer, who resells it. "The consumer avoids further financial obligation or negative impact to his/her credit," said Hyundai in a statement.

The Korean automaker said the program covers a wide variety of circumstances, including involuntary unemployment, physical disability, loss of driver's license due to medical impairment, international employment transfer, self-employed personal bankruptcy and accidental death.

Inside Line says: This unusual program is sure to be copied by Hyundai's competitors. — Anita Lienert, Correspondent