General Motors Tuesday announced an unusual though not unprecedented program to help boost Chevrolet sales this summer -- a money-back guarantee on 2012 and 2013 models purchased between now and Sept. 4.
Chrysler Group, meanwhile, announced the reprise of a program it offered in May allowing buyers to postpone monthly payments for the first 90 days if they finance through Ally Financial, formerly GMAC.
Although Chevrolet sales were up 6 percent this year through June nationally, the U.S. new-vehicle market increased by more than twice that much, at almost 15 percent. Chrysler sales are up by 30 percent this year through June, thanks in part to heavy spending on rebates and other incentives.
Local dealers welcomed the Chevrolet offer. "It's a bold program; they're backing up their product," said general manager Scott Brown at Robert Chevrolet in Hicksville.
Typically, few vehicles are returned in such programs. Those that are must be resold by dealers as used vehicles, with the manufacturer making up the loss, said owner Mark Calisi of Eagle Chevrolet in Riverhead. The only cost to the dealer is interest on a revolving line of credit to "floor-plan" the vehicle until it is sold. "The benefits outweigh the liabilities on this one," said Calisi. "It's a great promotion, and people are already starting to call about it."
GM also is offering buyers of 2012 Chevrolet models special discounts from sticker price equal to those available to employees of GM supplier companies. The offer is in addition to any rebates or cut-rate financing available.
GM made a similar buyback offer in September 2009 to boost sales as it exited bankruptcy protection. In 2009, Hyundai Motor Corp. let customers return vehicles within the first year of ownership if they lost their jobs. Chrysler made a 60-day buyback offer on its minivans in April 2011.
On Long Island new registrations of Chevrolets were down by almost 7 percent this year through April from a year earlier, at 3,179 vehicles, in a flat market, according to the Michigan-based auto data provider R.L. Polk & Co. Honda was the best- selling auto brand, with 8,672 new ones registered through April of this year, followed by Nissan and Toyota.
Industry analyst Jesse Toprak, vice president of market intelligence for the auto information website TrueCar.com, called the Chevrolet buyback program "smart and cost-effective," and said "it will work towards diminishing the perception gap of the Chevrolet brand, particularly in coastal metropolitan areas where consumers have a stronger preference towards the import brands."