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Lose your job? Hyundai U.S. will buy back car

Can't make the payments on that new car you just bought? No problem- just return it free of charge.

  • The image of cars in a showroom

NEW YORK – Can’t make the payments on that new car you just bought? No problem- just return it free of charge.

At least that’s the deal being offered by Hyundai Motor America. In a bid to woo skittish consumers, the South Korea-based automaker will cover the depreciation on a returned leased or financed vehicle for those who find themselves unable to make their car payments.

Deadbeats need not apply, however. The “Hyundai Assurance Program” only applies to customers stricken by misfortune outside of their control, such as losing their job, becoming disabled or losing their drivers license for medical reasons.

Customers must also have made at least two payments on the car already. In addition, Hyundai will only refund the depreciation on the returned car up to $7,500 and the program is complementary for the first 12 months of leasing or financing.

Hyundai, which launched the program on Friday, said it is aimed at consumers too nervous to spring for a new car in the difficult economy. The slump in consumer confidence has been one of the biggest factors behind the collapse in new vehicle sales in 2008.

“We understand consumers’ hesitance to commit to large purchases in today’s economic environment,” said John Krafcik, acting president and chief executive of Hyundai North America, in a prepared statement. “Today we’re extending … peace of mind to cover consumers’ employment status and personal finances.”

Hyundai, along with the rest of the industry, was scheduled to report December and full-year U.S. sales later Monday. Hyundai’s sales were down 40 per cent in November from the previous year, while industrywide sales tumbled 37 per cent.

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