Toyota has built up a well earned reputation for quality and reliability over the years, and while the current recalls and safety issues it’s facing might have dented the rep, there remains many happy and loyal customers in the US who aren’t swayed by the vicious, political mileage seeking elected reps, media outlets that are always sniffing around for a good story and suspicious new cases of unstoppable cars cropping up at a fast rate.
Toyota sales for the first two months of 2010 has been understandably down (by 10% in February) but 0% financing, subsidised leases and free maintenance incentives introduced for March has proven to be effective. For the first eight days of this month, North American sales surged about 50%, the Associated Press reported. Analysts forecast a 30% bounce for the full month as initial excitement tapers off.
“Incentives work best in the early going, but they start to peter out as the month goes along,” Edmunds senior analyst Jessica Caldwell said. “That’s why it’s important for Toyota to find something else in the months ahead.”
George Magliano, director of North American auto research for IHS Global Insight in New York, said Toyota quickly attracted loyalists who had deferred buying until an incentive was offered. But the offers won’t help for long, he said. “This will boost sales a little bit, but it’s not going to continue beyond this month. They’re still wrestling with the recalls and new reports of problems.”
But when heads are down, any form of encouragement is valuable, and Toyota will be heartened by this development.