GM extends money-back guarantee

October 29, 2009

GM extends money-back guarantee

The Detroit News

General Motors Co., trying to boost market share and vehicle sales after emerging from bankruptcy, has extended its money-back guarantee until Jan. 4 and will launch a second round of advertisements featuring hood-to-hood comparisons with competitors’ vehicles.

The comparison campaign, scheduled to start in December, is the second phase of a national advertising barrage initiated last month that offers buyers a 60-day, money-back guarantee. Under the campaign, GM has sold approximately 142,000 vehicles and 449 people took the guarantee in lieu of a $500 vehicle discount. Only four people have returned the vehicles so far though another 49 people have filed paperwork indicating they likely will return the vehicle.

GM will supplement the campaign by running digital and print ads comparing key GM vehicles such as the Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet Malibu and Silverado against the Lexus ES 350, Toyota Camry and Ford F-150.

The ads will feature side-by-side comparisons on several attributes such as fuel economy and safety and remind buyers about GM’s five-year, 100,000 mile warranty.

"We know there is a big perception gap, and we believe we have best-in-class vehicles. We’re trying to do this in a way that isn’t shouting or boastful," said Jay Spenchian, GM’s executive director of marketing strategy.

The moves are a bid to boost slumping sales and market share at a crucial time for the automaker, and for GM executives under government pressure to improve the company’s fortunes.

There have been encouraging results.

A third of Buick buyers this month are under 55 years old, which is significant considering the brand has been called a favorite among older people.

"I’m not saying we have (that perception) licked yet," said Susan Docherty, GM vice president of U.S. sales.

Her goal is to match China, where half of Buick buyers are under 50 years old.

Docherty, the former general manager of Buick-GMC, succeeded Mark LaNeve 10 days ago. Today, GM said it will interview candidates Nov. 2 from outside the company to replace Docherty.

GM sales dropped 45 percent last month and have fallen 36.4 percent this year but the automaker Wednesday said it anticipates its October vehicle sales will rise compared to a year earlier, the first such increase for the automaker in 21 months. October results will be released Tuesday. said today it forecasts GM will achieve its highest market share year-to-date at 21.5 percent, up from 20.9 percent in September.

GM, which received $50 billion in federal aid, has poured millions into the "May the Best Car Win" campaign and extended it through the end of December. The promotion urges consumers to try 2009 and 2010 models from one of the automaker’s four core brands — Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC. Anyone who is unhappy with their purchase can return the vehicle within 60 days.

There are a few strings attached. The buyer must keep the vehicle for at least 31 days, be current on payments and not exceed 4,000 miles within 60 days. And the dealer will not refund any negative equity the buyer had in their trade-in vehicle.

The campaign is the first under the leadership of GM Vice Chairman and marketing czar Bob Lutz, who raced drivers today at the Monticello Motor Club in Monticello, N.Y. Lutz, who drove an unmodified Cadillac CTS-V, competed against racers driving an Audi RS4, Mitsubishi Evolution, BMW M3 and M5.

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