Chevrolet, in bid to boost sales, allows car returns

Jerry Hirsch / The Los Angeles Times /


Published Jul 13, 2012 at 05:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

LOS ANGELES — Chevrolet will allow buyers to return their cars for a full refund as long as they have less than 4,000 miles driven and no damage.

The offer is part of a new marketing program that includes no-haggle pricing and is meant to increase Chevrolet sales and reverse a market-share slide for the brand this year.

The “Love it or return it” program is good on new 2012 or 2013 model-year vehicles. Any returns have to be within 30 to 60 days of the purchase date. The promotion runs through Sept. 4 and may help Chevrolet sell off its remaining inventory of 2012 vehicles as it transitions to the new model year.

“Many consumers like no-haggle pricing because it's a giant headache and scares a lot of consumers, since most people only haggle when acquiring two assets: real estate and car,” said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst with IHS Automotive.

It's also an efficient way to sell cars, Lindland said. Sales staff won't be tied up for long periods haggling on a price with one client, leaving them free to move on to the next potential buyer.

While the deals are true discounts, they are not as deep as previous initiatives by Chevrolet, such as extending its pricing for employees to all buyers. But it should help bring buyers to showrooms, said Jesse Toprak, an analyst at TrueCar.com, an auto price information company.

“Similar programs have been quite successful in the past, and we expect Chevrolet to get a decent boost from this promotion for the next couple of months,” he said.

The pricing deal cuts about $600 to $700 off the sticker price of a decently equipped Cruze subcompact sedan and about $1,000 off a similarly equipped Equinox sport utility vehicle.

Some buyers of Chevrolet models got better deals in recent weeks, according to closed transaction data reported by TrueCar.com. Moreover, many of the discounts offered in the program reduce the price of the car to about its average transaction price prior to the GM sales initiative, according to the data.

General Motors Co. is launching the program at a time when sales at its Chevrolet division have lagged the market.

Chevrolet has sold 961,662 vehicles in the U.S. through the first half of this year, a 6.3 percent gain from the same period a year earlier, according to Autodata Corp. At the same time, the overall auto market has grown by well over double that rate, 14.8 percent.

The brand has lost market share to Toyota, Chrysler, Jeep and Volkswagen nameplates. Through the first half of this year, Chevrolet had 13.2 percent of U.S. auto sales, down from 14.3 percent in the same period a year earlier.

But the automaker sees the program as a way to attract buyers who would have gone to other brands.

“We think customers who have been driving competitive makes or even older Chevrolets will be very pleased by today's Chevrolet designs, easy-to-use technologies, comprehensive safety and the quality built into all of our cars, trucks and crossovers,” said Chris Perry, Chevrolet global vice president of marketing.

The money-back guarantee may provide the nudge to get people to try a Chevrolet vehicle.

“Research has shown customers respond positively to the confidence companies demonstrate with programs like this and appreciate the peace of mind that comes with knowing they have the option of being able to return their vehicle,” Perry said.