When fuel prices crashed through the roof and soared into orbit last year, manufacturers rushed to soothe customers' fear of high fuel prices by offering gasoline subsidies. Now that fuel prices are creeping up, Hyundai has decided to offer a $1.49/gallon price guarantee for select models purchased by August 31, 2009.
The program is administrated by the same company, Pricelock, that assisted Chrysler with its "Let's Refuel America" program last year. Buyers register a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover credit card, or a Visa or MasterCard check card on a website and the received a specially branded Hyundai card in the mail. Buyers will then be able to use the Hyundai card at approximately 93% of all service stations in the United States. No matter what the price is at the pump, the customer will only be charged $1.49 with Hyundai making up the difference.
There is no free lunch and in this particular case, Hyundai customers will have to give up $1,000 from any current rebates that Hyundai offers. Unlike the Chrysler program which offered three years of price protection, Hyundai will only have your back for one year. There is also a cap on how many gallons of gasoline you can buy: 12,000 miles divided by the EPA combined fuel economy rating for the qualifying model.
When compared to other manufacturers, Hyundai is having quite a successful run in this down economy. Not content to rest on its laurels, the Korean manufacturer has tried a host of innovative marketing tactics this year: Hyundai Assurance offers to buy back you car if you lose your job within the first 12 months of ownership, Hyundai also currently offers to pay customers a monthly stipend for six months and now the company guarantees that fuel prices won't bore a hole into your wallet. None of these programs are particularly expensive for Hyundai but have enabled it stay in the limelight and receive a lot of free publicity from the media. Pretty clever!