2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
Hyundai's popular Assurance Program debuted during the dark days of the recession, promising shoppers that Hyundai would buy back their vehicles if they lost their jobs, went bankrupt, or became disabled. That proved a hit with customers, and paired with Hyundai's new-found notoriety for vehicles like the NACOTY-winning Genesis, it gave the Korean brand a huge surge in sales. (It also inspired some competition from other automakers, and at least one really good parody ad [NSFW].)
But now, the recession is fading, and the number of customers who cite the Assurance Program as their reason for buying a Hyundai has shrunk. Because of that -- and perhaps because incentive programs across the board are on the wane due to production problems following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan -- Hyundai's Assurance Program is being phased out today.
The Assurance Program launched in January 2009, a time when headlines told of banks and automakers teetering at the brink of bankruptcy and the feds' controversial plans to save them. The program was possibly the highest achievement of Hyundai's former marketing mastermind, Joel Ewanick. (Ewanick shifted to Nissan in March 2010, and then, in May 2010, to General Motors, where he's now Global Chief Marketing Officer.)
Over its 26-month run, the Assurance Program lured an increasing number of U.S. shoppers into Hyundai showrooms. The company's sales ticked up 8% in 2009 -- at a time when nearly every other automaker was in the red -- and a whopping 23.7% in 2010, which was the best performance of any mainstream automaker in the U.S.
According to Hyundai Motor America spokesman Jim Trainor, a total of 350 customers have made use of the Assurance Program's buyback offer so far. Given that Hyundai sold around 1,000,000 vehicles in North America during the run of the program, that seems like a fairly good return on investment.
Arrivederci, Assurance. Let's hope we don't need you again for a long, long time.