Hyundai Looks to Expand U.S. Market Share Amid Downturn

Plan that lets consumers return cars if they lose their job will help effort

Despite a deepening recession and expectations for one of the worst industry-wide sales years in decades, Hyundai expects it will be able to expand its U.S. market share."We feel pretty good despite a difficult economy that we're well positioned to continue to grow in North America," said Dave Zuchowski, vice president in charge of sales for Hyundai USA. "We're as well positioned as anybody to deal with a very difficult economy."

A key component of that plan is a new incentive plan called Hyundai Assurance which offers to let people return their cars without a significant penalty if they lose their job or become disabled within a year of buying them. "It's really struck a chord," Zuchowski said on the sidelines of the Detroit auto show.

Hyundai came up with the idea in October after U.S. sales collapsed in the wake of a financial crisis and credit crunch. Internal research showed that half of potential buyers were putting off plans do buy a new vehicle, mostly out of concern that they could lose their job.

Traffic to Hyundai's website has increased by 50% since the program was launched on January 3 while a recent survey found that the number of people who'd consider buying a Hyundai has increased by 15%, he said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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