Hyundai has scored a big marketing win with its incentive program that allows owners to return a new Hyundai within a year if they lose their job. Called the Hyundai Assurance program, the South Korean automaker sweetened the deal later by offering to pay up to three months of car payments before taking the car back so that owners would have time to look for a new job. While the rest of the auto industry has been hit with slumping sales in 2009, Hyundai sales were up in January and about even in February compared with 2008. Some of that certainly has to do with the peace of mind provided by the Hyundai Assurance program.

But an incentive program isn't successful just because it sells more vehicles. The value of the incentive to the automaker goes down the more it cuts into the profit of each vehicle sold. So how much has the Hyundai Assurance plan cost so far? Aside from a few marketing dollars to get the word out – nothing. That's because despite selling 55,133 vehicles through the end of February, not a single owner has taken Hyundai up on its offer to buy back their vehicle. So, at this point, the incentive program has been a home run idea that's sold more cars but effectively cost Hyundai nothing. Of course, that could all change if within the next year our economy turns into Great Depression II and Hyundai owners begin returning their vehicles en masse. Until then, however, Hyundai will likely continue to enjoy a better sales performance each month than its competition.

Follow the jump for a poll on the effectiveness of Hyundai's Assurance program.

[Source: Kicking Tires]

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