Last year's sudden surge in oil prices sent many car buyers - and the industry - into shock. Prices over $4 per gallon were outside most people's frame of reference. This year, in the weak economy, even fewer people are prepared to fork over more money for their fuel, and Hyundai has taken note.

It is offering a deal to anyone that buys a Hyundai before August 31: $1.49 per gallon gas for a whole year, or 12,000mi - whichever comes first. The program is called Hyundai Assurance Gas Lock

Chrysler and Hyundai both experimented with fuel-based offers last year with varying success, but by setting the price at a low $1.49 per gallon, Hyundai is saving its customers $1.50 or more per gallon in many parts of the country.

“Our research shows that nearly 40 percent of potential new car buyers are staying out of the market specifically due to uncertainty around future gas prices,” said John Krafcik, CEO and president of Hyundai Motor America

The innovative plan is hoped to help push Hyundai past its current sales rank in the U.S. Last month alone, Hyundai sold nearly 37,000 cars, putting it on nearly even ground with Chrysler and Nissan.

Hyundai has already had its Hyundai Assurance program in action for several months now, which allows buyers to walk away from their new car if they lose their job.