GM Launches Payment Protection...

... or "payment protection for the first 24 months of ownership... lose your income and we'll make up to nine payments for up to $500 per month". This is a direct quote from the GM website announcing the program. For some reason, they make it sound that losing your job is a good thing. It doesn't matter if you lose your job as long as you get to keep your car...Thousands of happy unemployed people cruising in 30k and above vehicles singing "Sleeping in my car..."

"Our Total Confidence plan is an unprecedented offer that reinvents the ownership experience in an extremely positive way. Unlike other programs out there, 'GM Total Confidence' provides comprehensive coverage for new vehicle owners, from protecting their new vehicle investment to protecting their family's income. GM Total Confidence provides customers peace of mind in uncertain times," said Mark LaNeve, GM North America vehicle sales vice president said.

What is so positive about it? The nine months, max $500/month payment protection? Having a car and no job? Or the fact that, in all (unfortunate) likelihood, those who are unemployed now, might still be so nine months from now?

And then what will we do? Nine months times $500 is $4,500. That's roughly 20 percent of $25,000 severance payment offered to GM workers who choose to leave the company on their own. So, the nine month period ends, we're still out of a job and have no way of paying $4,500 to our local GM dealer.

We get there and say: "Look, it's been fun, but sorry, I can't afford it. Here are the keys..." Unfortunately, GM, unlike Hyundai, does not offer the possibility for you to turn your car in and get a discount (nor do Ford and AutoNation). So, you will now be stuck with a car, a debt and no income.

You might wonder what is it that bugs us about such programs. Well, in an normal economy, they are a good thing. They can give customers the feeling that in case of a live altering event (such as unemployment) they are being helped and supported to get back on track.

But this is not a normal economy. We doubt, despite our hopes, that it will get back on its feet by the end of the year. Launching such incentives using the "boost new car sales" frenzy now might make things go from bad to worse. Undoubtedly, new car sales will rise and so the illusion of a recovering economy is ensured.

We've all seen what happened in the real estate business, where selling, no matter to whom or for how much, as long as the numbers added up, was the main agenda. And if we are not mistaking, it is where all of this mess began.

This is where the automotive industry is today. Sell, sell, sell. Or, as a UAW official told CNN a few days back, we shouldn't built less cars, but more of them. Give the customer a wider choice and sales will rise.

Wrong. Still, if you are about to get laid off and plan to go the GM way, here are the terms and conditions.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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