General Motors has hinted it may copy an incentive programme launched by Hyundai Motor America that allows buyers to return their new vehicles if they suddenly lose their income but is not keen on taking vehicles back itself.

GM said it had studied a concept that had helped its South Korean rival buck the worst of the industry’s sales decline in the US since its launch in January, Reuters reported.

Hyundai reported a 1.5% decline in February sales as the US slid about 42% overall.

GM sales fell 53% and regional sales head Mark LaNeve said Hyundai’s move has caught its attention.

“We’ve been looking as possibilities of what we might do,” LaNeve said. “We think it’s a rich area to explore in this era.”

LaNeve said GM would like to find a way to help car buyers keep their vehicles if they lose a job but added: “We’re not crazy about the Hyundai programme because you have to get the car back.”

Under the Hyundai programme, vehicle owners may return their vehicles in the first year if they lose their income because of job loss or other reasons – the programme was later expanded to give owners 90 days of payment relief before returning the vehicle.

“Americans are pulling in the horns because they’re afraid of losing their job,” GM sales analyst Mike DiGiovanni said.