Hyundai kicks off 'cash for clunkers' three weeks early

Hyundai has been one of the most innovative car companies over the last year or so -- from its Hyundai Assurance program to its latest $1.49 gas promo - and will continue that trend with its latest sales tactic. The government's Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) - better known as "Ëścash for clunkers' - doesn't actually take effect until July 23rd, but Hyundai has already begun accepting eligible clunker trade-ins.

Alexandria Hyundai in Alexandria, Virginia was the first Hyundai dealer in the nation to accept a clunker trade-in, taking Katherine Michon's 1995 Ford Explorer. Michon traded in her 15 mpg Explorer for a 26 mpg Hyundai Elantra Touring, netting her $4,500 cash back.

Hyundai decided to offer its own CARS program during the interim period after a May study revealed 11 percent of buyers were holding back on a new vehicle purchase until a scrappage plan was put into place. "We appreciate what Washington has done getting the program completed, but it's clear that the wait has left many potential car-buyers on the sidelines," said John Krafcik, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America. "We thought it was imperative to get funding to our dealers so that they could implement the program right away and satisfy the demand they've been hearing from consumers."

Like the CARS program, Hyundai will offer new car buyers $4,500 or $3,500 for eligible clunker trade-ins.