Hyundai Return Program Possibly Extended, CEO Talks about Hyundai’s Future

Hyundai Motor Co Ltd is running a program now under which buyers who find themselves in dire financial straits due to job loss can return their vehicles. Hyundai’s CEO said on Wednesday that they are considering extending the program beyond its original end date.

The automaker’s program, called the “Hyundai Assurance Program” was mimicked by their competitors General Motors Company and Ford Motor Company and has led to growing sales numbers and market share for the South Korean automaker.

Hyundai CEO John Krafcik told Reuters news service that the car return program will be continued through the end of this year at least. He also said, “We’re thinking now about how much further we should take it.”

Although the program has boosted Hyundai sales, only fifty buyers have actually had to use its take advantage of the offer and return their vehicles to dealerships.

U.S. sales for the company were up 2% to 342,217 units in the first nine months of this year from the year before even though, on average, U.S. auto sales fell almost 30%. Market share for Hyundai this year hit a high of 4%. The company will be one of the only automakers to actually increase sales over last year, said Krafcik. He would not speculate on future market share goal numbers.

He says, “We are being conservative for next year in our expectations.”

Krafcik was present at a recent meeting hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration addressing the issues of fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards in the U.S. for the 2012 to 2016 model years.

He said, “We desire to be the number one fuel economy brand in the United States (we are number three right now) as quickly as possible.” Currently, Hyundai’s fleet-wide fuel economy rating is about 28 to 29 mpg, placing them behind Toyota Motor Corporation and Honda Motor Company in overall fuel efficiency.

Hyundai is making numerous changes to its fleet, concentrating primarily on its four-cylinder cars to improve its fuel efficiency average. The goal is fleet-wide efficiency, with changes in store for turbocharged engines, aerodynamics and fuel injection technologies, among others. Krafcik says that change is constant at Hyundai.

"Hybrids will play a role, but they’re not going to play a significant role," he s

aid. "They are very expensive a

nd Americans have shown, at least in the current gasoline price regime, that they are not able to make that cost-benefit trade-off."

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