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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Hyundai must be blushing.

For the second time the South Korean manufacturer has found a marketing gimmick that forced competitors to copy it.

Ford and General Motors announced this week that they were offering their own versions of Hyundai’s “Assurance” program, which makes your payments for a while if you lose your job.

GM’s program is called the “Total Confidence” plan, and Ford calls its plan the “Ford Advantage.” Still more manufacturers may jump on the bandwagon.

The first time Hyundai rocked the market was a decade ago, when the company offered a five-year, 60,000-mile overall warranty, and a 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty, with part of that powertrain warranty transferable to a subsequent owner, so long as he or she was a family member.

And now comes the Hyundai Assurance plan, instituted in the first week of January. Finance or lease any new Hyundai, “and if in the next year you lose your income, we’ll let you return it,” the company says.

Plus, “If you lose your income, we’ll make your payments for three months while you get back on your feet, and if that’s not enough time to work things out, you can return the car with no impact on your credit.”

The maximum “benefit” is $7,500. You must be employed when you buy the car, and “you have to make payments on the car for at least two months,” says Chris Hosford, California-based director of public relations for Hyundai. So what are Ford and General Motors offering?

Ford (this includes Lincoln and Mercury) will make your payments for up to 12 months, as high as $700 per payment. You must be employed for at least 90 days before the purchase and at least 30 days afterward.

GM (this includes all brands but Saab, plus larger trucks) will make your payments for up to nine months, for payments as high as $500. “You have to be employed when you buy the vehicle, and remain employed for 90 more days.

“Then, if you lose your job due to economic conditions during the next 21 months, you are eligible for benefits. If you lose your job for other reasons, you may not be covered.”

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