DETROIT -- General Motors is studying a new marketing or incentive program to address slumping consumer confidence, but the automakers top sales executive says GM wont copy Hyundais Assurance program.
Meanwhile, GM might not advertise its traditional March Madness sale.
GM has examined the Hyundai program but wants to offer something more consumer friendly, Mark LaNeve, GMs vice president of North American sales, service and marketing, said today in a call with analysts and reporters.
Weve looked at Hyundais program extensively, and weve examined some possibilities of what we might do because certainly the consumer is anxious and worried about the future and whether or not they will retain their job, LaNeve said.
Were not crazy about the Hyundai program because all it does is protect your credit from being wrecked. Youve still got to turn in your car. And when you lose your job, you still need a car to find another job.
Hyundais Assurance plan, launched in January, allows buyers to return any new Hyundai vehicle leased or financed in 2009 if they lose their jobs within the first year of ownership. Hyundai also will make the vehicle payments for 90 days.
Some experts say the Assurance plan is responsible for Hyundais sales rising 14.3 percent in January. Hyundai today said it posted a 0.7 percent sales decline for February -- which was the second-best U.S. sales performance of the month behind Subaru.
LaNeve said the idea behind Hyundais program is promising. But GM is studying how much of Hyundais January sales increase was attributable to Assurance or the result of high inventory of 2008 models that carry a lot of incentive money.
That said, we think theres something there that addresses consumer confidence, and thats the area were looking at: Can we do something that addresses consumer confidence? said Pete Ternes, a GM spokesman.
We arent interested in following Hyundais Assurance program exactly because were not sure how effective it really is.
In the meantime, GM plans to carry over the Presidents Day sales incentives from February into March, Ternes said. GM will use the TV time it bought during the NCAA basketball tournament to promote its product message more than a sale, he said.
Ternes hinted that there might not be a separate March Madness promotion this year.
I dont know how much well tailor something toward March Madness. Were using the air space to advertise our current incentive program, Ternes said. But we want to close the perception gap.
Ternes said GMs ads will feature a specific product or group of products in the messaging more so than the deal.