“Obviously, vehicle pricing is always up to dealers, but the bottom line is consumers are going to be able to see a lot more of how all of the pieces fit together in a transaction so they can go into a dealership with a lot less anxiety and a lot more excitement around the car,” Evans said.
Shoppers are also able to use a dealer’s website to get estimates for their trade-in vehicles and apply for financing.
About 80% of Hyundai’s 820 dealers have adopted the practice, enabled by an e-commerce plug-in for their websites that’s been around for about two years—the automaker was “getting retailers to see and understand [the process] before we got to this more public place.”
“We obviously have dealers that we are showing this for the first time,” he said. “They are realizing that this is the wave of the future, and they’re signing up for the program and committing themselves to modifying or improving their sales process.”
Shopper Assurance also offers flexibility when it comes to test drives. Consumers can hail one via the app, similar to the process they turn to when hailing a ride-sharing service.
“Just like an Uber experience, you see a salesperson in a car driving to whatever location of choice is, continue the test drive experience, drop the customer off, and the salesperson returns the car back in the store,” Evans said. “In some markets, we have the ability to (complete the) transaction in the customer’s living room.”
And if the customer gets cold feet, Hyundai’s offering that three-day money-back guarantee.
“You have the ability within three days—300 miles is the fine print— to bring it back and we’ll give you your full refund and ask if there’s any other vehicle that we could interest you in,” he said. “We really think that that’s a big deal because we find it fascinating that you can return almost any other kind of merchandise in the market today and the car is still that holy grail of ‘once you sign it, you’re done.’ [Testing shows] consumers really appreciated that pressure taken off their shoulders.”
Returned cars may be resold as new, depending on state laws. Hyundai will take care of “a transaction fee for any of those customers that might have to return the car” and is asking dealers to “do their business as they do in their own state.”
Some retailers that specialize in sales of used vehicles—CarMax, AutoNation, Carvana—offer a three-day cooling off period, but Hyundai is the first auto brand to adopt the practice.
“[We] want the consumers to not just rationally fall in love with the great product but emotionally fall in love with a great company that stands by him in many different assurance ways,” Evans said.
The automaker launched a similar program in the midst of the recession when it offered to buy back vehicles within the first year of sale from owners who lost their jobs. Its “Assurance Program,” along with other market forces, enabled Hyundai to notch gains as competitors’ sales declined. It was discontinued in 2011 as markets recovered.
The latest program rendition couldn’t be timelier—Hyundai’s U.S. dealers sold 496,638 vehicles in the first nine months of the year, a 15% drop from a year earlier.
“Shopper Assurance is going to give our dealers the tools we need to exceed the expectations of today’s shopper,” Hyundai National Dealer Council Chairman Andrew DiFeo said in a statement. “With a strong lineup of new cars and CUVs, we expect that Shopper Assurance will give us a competitive advantage and help turn prospects into buyers.”