Although the federal Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) program won’t officially launch until July 23, Hyundai Motor America is already reaping the rewards. Getting an early jump on the competition, Hyundai began offering self-funded rebates to qualifying car buyers on July 2 and plans to redeem the government vouchers once they become available.
The CARS program, commonly referred to as ‘cash for clunkers’ was signed into law by President Obama on June 24. The new legislation allows consumers who meet certain criteria to receive vouchers for up to $4,500 when they trade in their older model vehicles on new vehicles that produce lower emissions and get better gas mileage.
According to Hyundai ‘cash for clunkers’ trade-ins accounted for 7% of sales in the first week.
The Hyundai Elantra accounted for 41% of cars purchased under the program. The Elantra was recently recognized as a ‘Top Pick’ by Consumer Reports and was named as the 2009 compact car with the highest initial quality rating by J.D. Power and Associates.
When combined with manufacturer incentives, Elantra buyers who also qualified for the full CARS rebate amount of $4,500 paid as little as $8,620. The Hyundai Sonata and Accent were the second and third most popular models among those who purchased new vehicles under the CARS program last week. Sonata sales accounted for 29% and sales of the Hyundai Accent making up an additional 16% of CARS qualifying transactions.
Hyundai Motor America president and chief executive, John Krafcik says, “The early response we’re seeing demonstrates the CARS program is working, with inefficient gas guzzlers being traded-in for fuel-efficient Hyundai models.”
Krafcik also expresses optimism that the CARS program will continue to drive higher sales numbers in coming weeks and months. “We expect overall sales from this program to grow as consumer awareness increases ‘ it should surpass 10 percent of our retail sales this month,” says Krafcik.
Under the CARS program, consumers qualify for the full $4,500 rebate amount if the new car they buy or lease achieves fuel efficiencies of 10 mpg or more than their trade-in. For light trucks the fuel efficiency of the new vehicle drops to five gallons or more than their trade-in. For new cars that get between 4 and 9 mpg more that the trade-in, and new light trucks that achieve between 2 to 4 mpg better than the trade-in the rebate amount decreases to $3,500.
Hyundai currently offers thirteen vehicle and engine combinations that qualify for CARS rebates which are offered on passenger vehicles that achieve a minimum of 22 combined city / highway miles per gallon and light trucks that deliver 18 combined city / highway miles per gallon or higher.
In addition to offering consumers the opportunity to take advantage of the CARS program, Hyundai is also offering special financing options including the highly successful Hyundai Assurance Program. Under the program consumers who cannot make their auto payments as the result of a ‘covered life changing event’ may return their vehicle to the dealer and, as stated on the Hyundai website, ‘walk away from your loan obligation – and in most cases we will cover most, if not all of the difference.’
Another Hyundai incentive that has proven very popular as fuel prices continue their rollercoaster price ride is the Hyundai Assurance Gas Lock program which offers buyers a full year’s worth of gasoline at $1.49 per gallon guaranteed.