Two new programs caught my eye recently, recession-fighters by vehicle companies who aren't spending their time driving to D.C. for a handout. Perhaps this kind of thinking will help reverse the downturn in transportation sales. I hope so.

The first company is Hyundai, which over the weekend made a ton of ad buys to promote Hyundai Assurance. This program allows purchasers of new Hyundais to walk away from their loan in the event they lose their job within the next twelve months. Since the value of a new car drops considerably the moment it is driven off the lot, the company wisely built into the program coverage of up to $7,500 of negative equity. This means that, as long as the value of the car (as determined by Hyundai) is no less than $7,500 less than the amount owed, the purchaser can cut it loose without obligation. Say goodbye to the downpayment, though.

The second company is Harley-Davidson, which has been hit hard by the recession and the credit crunch. Since many new Harley riders start with the least expensive ride in the stable, the Sportster, the company is currently offering those who buy a new Sportster now the right to trade up within a year to a Dyna, Softail, VRSC or Touring model and receive the entire new value of the Sportster in trade. This is a good deal for the rider who is hot to join the HOG ranks but worried about his/her present finances.

This kind of thinking shows that companies that are willing to confront the recession, rather than withdraw into a shell, can create programs to give their dealers a fighting chance to move some iron.

Detroit, I'm looking at YOU.


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