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Hyundai offers assurance scheme to US car buyers

Hyundai Motor America has introduced what it calls an "assurance program" which allows a customer to return a vehicle if they suffer an "involuntary loss of income within 12 months of the purchase date”.

John Krafcik, acting president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America, said: "We understand consumers' hesitance to commit to large purchases in today's economic environment.”

He described the new program as an offshoot of Hyundai's warranty program, but one that now covers "consumers' employment status and personal finances”.

Hyundai claims there are minimal strings attached. It 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 (£5,126) 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 carmaker 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.

Example

A customer buys a 2008 Santa Fe SUV and gets a five-year loan for the total purchase price of $22,300 (£15,230). After nine months, the customer’s paid about $3,200 (£2,186) in principal on the loan and owes $19,100 (£13,047).

The buyer then loses his job and returns the vehicle to Hyundai. Assuming the used Santa Fe is appraised at $16,000 (£10,934), the buyer would be "under water" on his loan by $3,100 (£2,118) - but that's within the $7,500 (£5,126) negative-equity threshold provided by Hyundai. They would therefore owe nothing.

Hyundai hasn’t said whether it is considering the offer for its UK customers.

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