As governments in Canada slowly begin easing business restrictions and stay at home orders, dealers are looking to get vehicle buyers back into showrooms and buying cars.
The challenge is not so much around being ready for customers. Dealers are ready. It is whether customers have the confidence to buy a new vehicle.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only caused economies to come to near collapse, but the resulting high unemployment and economic uncertainty caused by the actions taken to slow the spread of the novel corona virus has dampened many people’s enthusiasm to open their pocketbooks. Many are uncertain about their job prospects going forward and taking on the expense of a new vehicle seems too much right now.
Knowing how uncertainty and unexpected changes in one’s life can dampen the decision to take on a vehicle purchase, Robert Varga and Vincent Beretta of Insurance Insight launched Kickstart Confidence – kickstartconfidence.ca – an online Kickstart campaign that is asking the federal government “to create a National Automotive Debt Relief Fund providing Canadians with the confidence they need to buy a new vehicle virtually risk-free. The automotive industry represents the backbone of our economy and recovery will stall significantly if Canadians are lacking confidence in the post-COVID economy.”
The goal is to give Canadians who are looking to purchase a vehicle the peace of mind to do so by giving them a 12-month vehicle return policy that will protect them if there are changes to their health or income, for example, without impacting their credit ratings or savings.
“The purpose is to stimulate a consumer’s confidence in buying a new vehicle,” said Varga, president and CEO of Insurance Insight, the creator and exclusive distributor of WALKAWAY Finance Protection, a vehicle return insurance program started in 1999. “We have pioneered vehicle return for over 20 years and have done similar programs for manufactures and auto lenders. We know that in times like these, no matter how much money an auto maker puts on the hood of a car as an incentive, when consumer confidence is at an all-time low, people are not going to buy that car.”
The National Automotive Debt Relief Fund would allow someone to lease or finance a new vehicle and return that vehicle to the dealership from which is was purchased from. The Fund would “pay the difference between the consumer’s outstanding financial balance and the vehicle’s depreciated value (up to $15,000) allowing the consumer to “walk away” from their obligation with little or no cost,” according to the Kickstart Confidence campaign website.
It would cover such situations as a loss of income, job loss, mental health disability, self-employed personal bankruptcy and pandemic and even provide COVID-19 coverage.
In many ways, the Kickstart Campaign takes after the Hyundai Assurance Program that Hyundai Motor America introduced during the 2009 recession (a white-labelled WALKAWAY product) which helped the company keep people in their vehicles and keep sales of new vehicles from falling precipitously.
Vincent Beretta, creator of WALKAWAY and executive chairman and founder of Insurance Insight said that since launching the Kickstart Campaign support for it has grown, including amongst many industry groups, consumers and suppliers and manufacturers across the auto industry in Canada.
He hopes that as more Canadians and industry supporters come onboard, that the initiative will gain even more traction and move the Federal government to look at the proposal and to roll out something very similar across Canada.