Chevrolet says buyers who don't love their new cars or trucks this summer can return them for a refund within 60 days.
The high-profile new offer, which also includes price discounts, is an effort by General Motors to distinguish Chevrolet - and get more shoppers to give Chevy a try - during the summer season, when automakers typically have promotions to clear out the current-year models. Chevy is GM's mainstay, accounting for 73% of its sales this year.
"We know people have been hesitant to return to Chevrolet because they had a bad experience or haven't seen how we've revamped the lineup. This is the way to get them in the door," says Chevy spokeswoman Afaf Farah.
Deals from other makers, too, are likely as they move the 2012 models off dealer lots ahead of the 2013s. Not likely to join in are makers already selling many 2013 models. Thus, look for little action from Hyundai, Kia, some European brands and perhaps Ford Motor, unless the No. 2 automaker is pressured by its dealers to match what GM is offering.
The Chevrolet Confidence return offer, which began Tuesday and runs through Sept. 4, also applies to 2013 models already out, though the price discounts do not.
The promotion reprises a similar GM-wide offer in 2009 when the company was trying to lure back shoppers made wary by GM's bankruptcy reorganization. GM's former Saturn brand also offered money-back guarantees over the years.
Chevy buyers can return their new cars or trucks for a refund of the purchase price plus sales tax. But they do not get back so-called dealer processing fees, other taxes and registration or licensing fees. If they waive the right to return the vehicle, however, they get an extra $500 discount.
"This is just a clever way to package Chevy's model-year-end incentives," says Jeremy Acevedo, analyst at auto-shopping site Edmunds.com. " 'Guaranteed customer satisfaction' might resonate with some shoppers. There are echoes of Hyundai's Assurance program, which proved to be a success in difficult economic times."
Hyundai in 2009 let buyers who lost their jobs return recently bought Hyundais, with no cash due and no credit-rating penalty. The results show the risk for Chevy is likely low. Hyundai spokesman Jim Trainor says just 300 cars were returned, of about 435,000 sold that year.