Hyundai is going for the jugular.
That's my take on the Feb. 1 announcement that the brand will offer free maintenance — oil and filter changes as well as tire rotations — during the first three years of ownership for U.S. buyers.
This from a brand that's on a roll. U.S. sales and market share are up. The only marques to score higher than Hyundai in last year's Initial Quality Study from J.D. Power were family members, Kia and Genesis. Its product portfolio is finally loaded with utility vehicles after relying on sedans for too long. Yet sedans aren't being neglected. The revised Sonata is an eye-catcher and an award winner, having just snagged Best Auto Tech honors from KBB.
So aside from the lingering scars from widely publicized engine recalls, Hyundai is in a pretty good place. And companies in good places just don't shell out for free maintenance. The desperate do.
Audi did it amid an unintended-acceleration crisis in the late 1980s. And Toyota went to freebie oil changes and more in 2010, after similarly battling a reputation for cars that were inexplicably running out of control.