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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 2, 2010

Toyota incentives help boost auto sales by 24%


Associated Press

DETROIT It's a buyer's market for car shoppers, with good deals expected to last at least another month as automakers continue to match Toyota discounts that lured thousands of buyers in March.

Seeking to repair the damage from a series of safety recalls, Toyota Motor Corp. offered unprecedented incentives last month, including low-interest financing and free maintenance for returning customers.

The deals worked so well that Toyota's U.S. sales jumped 41 percent and the automaker sold just 1,683 fewer cars than General Motors Co., the closest it has ever come to overtaking GM in monthly sales, according to auto research site Edmunds.com.

GM and other automakers matched the deals, boosting the industry's sales by 24 percent compared with the same month a year earlier, according to figures released yesterday and compiled by AutoData Corp.

Industry incentives averaged $2,742 per vehicle last month, according to Edmunds.com. That was down $423 from record-high levels a year earlier, when the economy was faltering and automakers saw one of the worst sales months in nearly 30 years.

The big change last month was Toyota, which normally limits sales promotions but resorted to them after recalls of more than 8 million vehicles worldwide for problems involving brakes and accelerator pedals.