Purchase a Chevrolet and don't like it? General Motors says you have up to two months with most models to return it for a cash refund, according to a first-ever offer announced Tuesday.
There are a few caveats: You have to own it for at least 30 days, drive fewer than 4,000 miles and bring it back without damage. There's also a mileage, registration and dealership fee that would vary by dealer and Chevy model.
GM also announced no-haggle pricing for its 2012 Chevys at participating dealers.
Separately, Chrysler said Tuesday it would allow buyers to delay monthly payments for 90 days as part of a national promotion. The offer extends to buyers of Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram Truck and Fiat-brand vehicles financed through Ally Financial.
Facing pressure to maintain strong sales in North America, the promotions hint that incentive-based marketing may be creeping back into dealerships as the U.S. economy continues to drag.
"Certainly we're in a better position now than we were in 2009, 2010, but there are fears beginning to resume about the state of the economy," Frost & Sullivan automotive analyst Matthew Scruggs said. "When you see one manufacturer offering really impressive incentive programs, there's pressure on the others to come up with their own solution. I would expect incentives to increase."
The offers hearken to the novel sales techniques of Saturn, which offered a 30-day return policy, and to the more-recent offers from Hyundai allowing customers who lost their jobs to return cars.
Some say it signals potential trouble for a U.S. auto industry that had reduced costly incentives earlier this year as pent-up demand and an improving economy were bringing customers back to the showroom without any special enticements.
"The stock market and the overall economy conditions are not stellar, so getting people into showrooms" is imperative, said Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends and insights for TrueCar.com.
GM says it's not reacting to increased inventory or worries about the economy and is simply employing some creative marketing. The program, called Chevy Confidence, shows GM's faith in the quality of the brand, said Chris Perry, Chevrolet vice president for marketing.
He said the company was not turning to incentives to accelerate sales. "I think we're doing a pretty good job of managing our production to the volume and the demand. Our inventories are good. We don't need to put a lot of dollars against it."
The offer could help GM clear out some inventory. Chevys are sitting on the dealership lot an average of 77 days, 40% higher than the industry average of 55 days, according to auto-research website Edmunds.com.
Toprak from Truecar.com said similar industry offers in the past have resulted in a return rate of less than 1%. "These programs are smart because they create a lot of buzz and the actual expense that goes into it is minimal," he said.
That's not to say some buyers won't benefit when something goes wrong with their new vehicles.
Fair Oaks, Calif., resident Judy Johnson said her daughter recently tried unsuccessfully to return a $60,000 2012 Chevrolet Silverado LTZ after experiencing mechanical problems.
"They had to cancel a camping trip because it was going to pull their trailer," she said. "As soon as they saw (the offer), they were like, 'Oh my gosh.' "
The initiative includes a new 60-second TV commercial narrated by comedian and actor Tim Allen, who also provides his voice to the wildly popular "Pure Michigan" ads. The Chevy spot proclaims GM's return to quality.
"Chevrolet had the greatest year in our history last year, and we're making our highest-quality, most-advanced cars ever," he says in the commercial.
Chevy Confidence carries echoes of Hyundai Assurance, a 2009 promotion that assured consumers they could return their new cars if they lost their jobs during the economic crisis.
Joel Ewanick, GM's global chief marketing officer, and Perry were the architects of Hyundai Assurance while they were working at Hyundai.
Hyundai has since altered its assurance program and no longer allows buyers to return vehicles if they lose their jobs.
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