NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Ford Motor Co.'s Land Rover sport-utility-vehicle brand is wheeling out an unusual 30-day money-back offer, Wednesday's Wall Street Journal reported.
Land Rover said that through May 31, buyers of its best-selling Discovery Series II model can drive the truck for 30 days, or 1,500 miles, and if they don't like it, bring it back for full refund. The Discovery Series II has a base price of $33,995, and is now besieged by a growing array of competitive vehicles that offer some kind of four-wheel-drive capability. Land Rover sales are down 35% for the year to date, whereas sales of the Discovery for the first two months of the year are off 36.8% to just 2,253 vehicles.
Land Rover's move toward populist marketing pitches -- the Discovery II also comes with a discounted lease offer -- comes as some other high-price SUVs are straining to sustain sales as the economy cools and competition intensifies.
Sales of DaimlerChrysler AG's (DCX) Mercedes-Benz M-class sport-utility vehicle are off 22% for the year through Feb. 28. Demand for Ford's (F) hulking Lincoln Navigator has
skidded nearly 23%, and General Motors Corp.'s (GM) rival to the Navigator, the Cadillac Escalade, has fallen 49% for the year to date.
But some newer luxury SUV models, engineered with smoother-handling car chassis and suspensions, are doing better. Bayerische Motoren Werke AG's new X-5 "sport activity
vehicle" outsold the Navigator in February by 2,873 vehicles to 2,494. The Acura MDX, engineered on the same chassis as Honda Motor Co.'s (HMC) Odyssey minivan, outsold the M-class in February by 3,798 to 3,292.
Money-back guarantees are rare in the auto industry, though not unknown. GM's Saturn unit has promoted an offer of 30-day satisfaction or your money back since the launch in 1990.
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