In the wake of record recalls and a $16 million fine from the Department of Transportation for failure to disclose defective pedals, Toyota is extending no-interest loans, discount leases, and free maintenance programs in an effort to hang on to its recent sales gains.
Incentives include financing with zero percent interest for as much as five years on 2010 Camry, Avalon, Corolla and Matrix cars; Highlander and RAV4 SUVs; and Tundra pickups through May 3. All customers, not just repeat buyers, are eligible for the deal.
In a statement, Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager of Toyota brand sales, said, "We're extending the two-year complimentary maintenance program, that proved to be very popular with existing Toyota owners in March, to all buyers in April."
Toyota saw sales gains of 41 percent in March after two consecutive months of losses following the recall of 8 million vehicles to address faulty pedals and sudden acceleration issues. The company hopes to capitalize on that momentum with aggressive incentives and consumer benefit programs.
James Bell, an executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book in Irvine, California, quoted in a report by Bloomberg, said he believed the sales gains in March were driven by "bargain hunters and Toyota loyalists." Now the company is being forced to dig deeper for new sales. "Once they get past those groups," he said, "it's getting tough to reach buyers who are looking at models from Ford, Subaru, all the others."