DEARBORN, Mich – Ford and General Motors jumped on the same bandwagon on Tuesday as both companies announced buyer assurance plans that promise to make car payments on behalf of new car owners who become unemployed.
The offers come as auto sales have been battered by the recession and tight credit.
Ford's plan will cover payments of up to $700 each month for up to a year on any new Ford, Lincoln or Mercury vehicle if consumers lose their jobs. The program runs until June 1.
In a similar move, General Motors will make up to 9 payments during the first 24 moths of ownership for buyers who find themselves out of work and qualify for state unemployment benefits.
Hyundai Motor Co. has been offering a deal that allows buyers to return a vehicle within a year if they can't make the payments due to a job loss or disability. That offer helped curb the decline in the South Korean carmaker's U.S. sales in February.
Neither of the plans from the U.S. automakers allow customers to return the car fully without penalty.
"Consumers remain anxious about the economy and their own outlook for the future," Ken Czubay, vice president of sales and marketing, said in a statement.
The announcements come a day after President Barack Obama said the government will back new car warranties issued by General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, who have accepted federal assistance and are seeking more, to help boost consumer confidence about buying their vehicles.
Ford has not requested federal bailout funds.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.