2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring – Click above for high-res image gallery

While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration doesn't plan to release its final rules and regulations for the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), otherwise known as Cash-for-Clunkers program, until July 23rd, Hyundai has decided that its customers don't have to wait. Alexandria Hyundai in Alexandria, VA has already accepted the first trade-in and doled out its first rebate. The clunker is a 15-mpg 1995 Ford Explorer, and Katherine Michon of Arlington, VA traded it in for a $4,500 credit on a brand new 26-mpg Hyundai Elantra Touring.

How can Hyundai get away with accepting clunkers early? The automaker is giving dealers short-term cash advances to cover the cost of its rebates until the CARS program officially kicks off later this month. Hyundai has 13 models with particular engine combinations that qualify for CARS, and the NHTSA has already confirmed that transactions on or after July 1, 2009 are eligible.

This could be a brilliant move on Hyundai's part, since its own internal research shows that 11 percent of car shoppers have delayed their purchase to take advantage of the rebates. If Hyundai is the only game in town that's accepting trade-ins and giving rebates early, it could steal a few sales away from other brands that are waiting patiently for the program to officially begin.

On the other hand, the NHTSA warns on the CARS official website that "interested dealers and consumers may want to wait until all of the detailed issues that must be addressed in the implementing regulations are resolved and the final rule is issued." By that time, however, you'll be driving around in a new car and getting reimbursed for the rebate will by Hyundai's problem.


Related GalleryReview: 2009 Hyundai Elantra Touring

[Source: Hyundai]


PRESS RELEASE

HYUNDAI TAKES FIRST TRADE-IN FOR THE GOVERNMENT'S "CAR ALLOWANCE REBATE SYSTEM"

Participating Hyundai Dealers Now Taking Eligible Trades in the "Cash for Clunkers" Program

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., July 2, 2009 – After months of debate and rounds of legislation, the wait has ended. Consumers can finally take advantage of the government's "Car Allowance Rebate System" (CARS), and Hyundai is leading the way. Katherine Michon of Arlington, Virginia was the first to trade-in an eligible clunker for a new Hyundai, replacing her 15 mile-per-gallon 1995 Ford Explorer with a 26 mile-per-gallon Hyundai Elantra Touring, at Alexandria Hyundai in Alexandria, Virginia.

Hyundai buyers will receive the full rebate allocated under the CARS program (also known as "cash for clunkers") when an eligible trade-in is exchanged for a qualifying Hyundai model. Hyundai is the first automaker to extend the government incentive to consumers, accelerating its implementation by several weeks by backing dealerships with short-term cash advances as the government organizes the rollout of the program industry-wide.

In May, Hyundai research showed that 11 percent of car buyers delayed their purchases until the CARS legislation was resolved. "We appreciate what Washington has done getting the program completed, but it's clear that the wait has left many potential car-buyers on the sidelines," said John Krafcik, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America. "We thought it was imperative to get funding to our dealers so that they could implement the program right away and satisfy the demand they've been hearing from consumers."

Under the CARS program, consumers qualify for a $4,500 rebate on the purchase or lease of new vehicles that achieve 10 miles per gallon more than a trade-in car or five miles per gallon or more than a trade-in light truck. New vehicles that achieve between 4 to 9 mpg more than a trade-in car, or 2 to 4 mpg more than a trade-in light truck qualify for a $3,500 incentive.

Thirteen Hyundai models and engine combinations qualify for the CARS incentive program, which requires passenger cars achieve 22 mpg or more combined fuel economy, and light trucks achieve 18 mpg or better combined fuel economy.

  • Accent
  • Elantra
  • Elantra Touring
  • Entourage
  • Sonata 2.4L
  • Sonata 3.3L
  • 2010 Genesis Coupe 2.0L
  • Tiburon 2.0L
  • Tucson 2.0L
  • Tucson 2.7L
  • Santa Fe 2.7L
  • Santa Fe 3.3L
  • Veracruz
Five Hyundai models achieve 30 miles per gallon or more on the highway –Accent, Elantra, Elantra Touring, Genesis Coupe 2.0L and Sonata 2.4L. Hyundai ranks third in corporate average fuel economy according the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, so consumers will realize further cost savings by stepping into a more fuel-efficient model than they currently drive.

The CARS incentive program complements all existing special incentives and financing options from the manufacturer, including Hyundai Assurance, which allows consumers to return their vehicle if they unexpectedly lose their income, and Hyundai Assurance Gas Lock, which offers a year's worth of gas at a guaranteed price of $1.49 per gallon.

HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA

Hyundai Motor America, headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Co. of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout the United States by Hyundai Motor America and are sold and serviced through more than 790 dealerships nationwide. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by The Hyundai Advantage, America's Best Warranty. In addition, Hyundai Assurance is now offered on all new vehicles leased or purchased from a certified Hyundai dealer. The program is available to any consumer, regardless of age, health, employment record or financed amount of the vehicle. The program is complimentary for the first 12 months.