LOS ANGELES (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp. is extending no- interest loans and discount leases for another month on some U.S. models and expanding an offer of two years of free maintenance to hold onto sales gains after record recalls.
The incentives include zero-percent financing for as long as five years on 2010 Camry, Avalon, Corolla and Matrix cars; Highlander and RAV4 SUVs; and Tundra pickups. All consumers are now eligible for the service plan, not just repeat customers. The deals run until May 3.
“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,” Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager of Toyota brand sales, said today in a statement.
Toyota is trying to build on momentum in U.S. sales in March, when discount loans and leases helped the world's biggest automaker boost deliveries 41 percent after two monthly declines. The company has recalled more than 8 million vehicles to adjust brakes and fix flaws linked to sudden acceleration.
“Bargain hunters and Toyota loyalists” drove the sales gains, said James Bell, executive market analyst at pricing firm Kelley Blue Book in Irvine, California. “Once they get past those groups, it's getting tough to reach buyers who are looking at models from Ford, Subaru, all the others.”
Toyota initially announced incentives on March 2. Those offers expired yesterday, the same day U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will seek to fine Toyota a record civil penalty of $16.4 million, the maximum allowed.
The automaker “knowingly hid a dangerous defect” related to accelerator pedals that can stick, LaHood said. Toyota said yesterday that it has moved to strengthen its “overall commitment to quality assurance.”
All standard service will be covered for two years under the new maintenance plan, Sona Iliffe-Moon, a spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. Customers also can choose a $3,000 rebate on Avalon rather than the loan, according to Toyota's Web site.