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TheBuzz

Erika Engle

Thursday, September 30, 2004


Visiting Hyundai exec
seeks to take the fear
out of car buying


HYUNDAI automotive executive Donna Kane once found herself -- a single mother of three -- with a car she could not trade in for a better one.

To make payments manageable, she had stretched her car loan over too long a time, eating into its resale value. She couldn't get rid of the gas guzzler, because what she owed on the car exceeded its worth. And warranty? What warranty? She was stuck.

Kane said she never wants that to happen to another woman, or man, or young person, or anyone.

No longer stuck, she has been in Hawaii visiting Hyundai dealers and to attend a meeting of the Governor's Highway Safety Administration.

A California-based executive with automaker Hyundai for a little more than 10 years, Kane has traveled the country preaching Car Buying 101, based on an idea she came up with during a contest at a national dealers' meeting shortly after being hired.

Knowing that "women would rather have a root canal or shop for a bathing suit than go buy a car," she suggested to her teammates a program to make car buying less frightening.

The idea was to invite women to dealerships for seminars on how to buy a car. There, the women could be introduced to Hyundai vehicles and serve as a focus group on how the Sonata, for instance, could be improved.

"Our group won -- and I won a men's golf shirt," she smiled.

The idea morphed into Hyundai's "Power of the Purse" consumer education program. It includes free booklets explaining do's and don'ts, pros and cons and, written in an unbiased manner, are not Hyundai propaganda.

The primary booklet explains steps to take before visiting a dealer's showroom, tips for selecting a good dealership and the top 11 things you should never do at a dealership. Topics of other brochures include tips on financing, buying versus leasing, test-driving a car and new car ownership.

The information is available online at hyundaiusa.com under the "News & Promos" link, but Kane also plans to make sure Hawaii's Hyundai dealers get a good supply of the booklets.

Some 80 percent of vehicle purchases are influenced by women, but Kane recommends the "Power of the Purse" series for any car buyer -- especially those who find themselves reluctant to ask for directions, she smiles.

The key to making a good deal for a car is "doing your homework," she said.

If you know what kind of car you want, if you know what you can afford and if you know what the dealer pays for the car and the national average sale price of the car, you have knowledge that equals power, Kane said.

Big sale

The old William Weinberg estate, a 10,000-square-foot home on 1.3 acres at 4505 Kahala Ave., has been sold for $17.5 million by Choi International. The buyer's identity has not been revealed and the seller is identified only as a Bahamian-registered company named Kahala Surf Inc. The home had been listed for $20 million.




See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: eengle@starbulletin.com


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