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Ford Solicits Scarce Buyers with Advantage Plan

Payments are covered for 12 months if purchaser loses job.

by on Mar.31, 2009

Ford marketing flatters Hyundai by emulating incentives.

Ford marketing copies Hyundai incentives.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Hyundai Motor America marketing executives should be blushing bright red as General Motors Corporation and Ford Motor Company followed it today with buyer payment protection plans that emulate its breakthrough Hyundai Assurance Program that has boosted sales by at least 10% in Hyundai’s estimation.

In the face of frightening U.S. sales declines in February that made it the lowest February sales on record going back to 1967, automakers are desperately trying to reassure customers that now is the time to buy with a variety of incentive packages. (February year-over-year comparisons ranged from -53% at GM, -48% Ford, -44% Chrysler, and -35 to -37% at Toyota, Honda and Nissan.)  Auto sales in the first two weeks of March were down 40% compared to a year ago, and running at a dismal annual rate of  9.2 million units, according to J. D. Power and Associates.

Automakers are increasingly using as an inducement guaranteed-payment of car loans, if the buyer loses his or her job — certainly a very real threat at domestic car companies, if not for workers in the slumping economy as a whole. 

controversial bill has also been introduced in the U.S. House of representatives (H.R. 1550, or the CARS Act) could help kick-start the American automotive market by providing cash incentives of up to $5,000 for those who trade in a vehicle at least eight years old for a limited selection of  fuel-efficient products produced in North America.  The legislation, as initially proposed, would offer the biggest tax credits for U.S.-made vehicles, though products made in the NAFTA countries, Canada and Mexico, would also qualify.  (more…)

GM Launching Total Confidence Program

Automaker hopes to ease concerns of reluctant buyers.

by on Mar.31, 2009

"GM Total Confidence," a 24-month customer protection package that will make up to nine payments for up to $500 per month for new car buyers who may become unemployed.

"GM Total Confidence," a 24-month customer protection package that will make up to nine payments for up to $500 per month for new car buyers who may become unemployed.

Hoping to assure reluctant motorists staying out of the new car market – or simply avoiding General Motors vehicles – GM has launched its expansive Total Confidence Program which, among other things, will protect buyers who unexpectedly lose their jobs.

The new program, announced during the first news conference by new GM CEO Fritz Henderson, offers to cover up to $4,500 in payments should a buyer lose his or her job, and even come up with some cash if a potential customer is “upside-down,” owing more money on their old vehicle than it would bring as a trade-in.

“This is about providing a full range of protection for our customers,” said Henderson, insisting the Total Confidence Program is more expansive than competitive measures launched by competitors, such as the Hyundai Assurance Program, which allows a buyer to return a vehicle, without penalty, if they lose their job.

The TCP program is GM’s latest response to the overall slide in U.S. new car sales and to the specific downturn it has faced as buyers grow wary about dealing with a manufacturer that could soon go bankrupt. On Monday, Pres. Barack Obama warned that a Chapter 11 filing was a very real possibility, as he rejected GM’s bid for a second round of emergency government loans. (more…)