Car dealers hope new incentives will ease economic anxieties

By Rebecca Powers - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Automakers are pulling out all the stops to sell cars right now. Hyundai is telling people they can give their new car back in a year if they can't pay for it. GM told their dealerships to offer no interest financing for five years. And all that, they say, translates into some incredible opportunities for consumers.

Kelly McKinney is a mother of four who loves her 2002 Chevy Tahoe. She's about to trade it in for a brand new Tahoe.

"I love it. It's absolutely beautiful," McKinney said.

She says she's been a Turan Foley customer and a Chevy fan her whole life. But it was the zero percent financing that convinced her now is the time to upgrade.

"There's just all kinds of reasons you should buy now. It really is the best time to buy ever," Turan Foley General Manager Paul Bozant said.

Last week, when Congress approved the first phase of bailout loans for the auto industry, GM put their price incentives into action. Local dealers were thrilled.

"It was a big sigh of relief to know that they are finally back in the mix, cause that's our bread and butter," Bozant said.

It's a similar story at Allen Hyundai in Gulfport. Hyundai is now the first automaker to ever offer a "vehicle return program."

"What Hyundai's done is, at no additional charge to the customer, they've provided a way for you to get out of the car," Scott Allen of Allen Hyundai.

Allen says if you lose your job within a year, get relocated, have medical problems, or declare bankruptcy, Hyundai will take your car back without a black mark on your credit. Car dealers know even people who may need a new car might be anxious about buying in these uncertain economic times.

"Really the purpose of this program is to help alleviate some of those fears," Allen said.