Toyota sales rise 40 pct in March on incentives

Toyota sales rise 40 pct in March on incentives

POSTED: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - 12:26pm

UPDATED: Thursday, April 22, 2010 - 3:05am

NEW YORK – Toyota sales surged 40 percent in March compared with last year after the automaker offered some of its deepest discounts ever to cope with the fallout of millions of recalls.

The incentives were scheduled to end April 5, but Toyota Group Vice President Bob Carter said some will continue into the spring, including an offer of free maintenance for return Toyota customers.

"When you look at what retail consumers are buying, many more retail consumers are going to be buying Toyotas in the month of March than any other brand," Carter said in an interview with The Associated Press at the New York International Auto Show, which kicked off with press previews on Wednesday.

Toyota Motor Corp. has been reeling from the recall of more than 8 million vehicles worldwide — including 6 million in the U.S. — over problems with accelerator pedals and braking issues with the Prius hybrid. The automaker rolled out aggressive incentive programs in early March, including 0-percent financing on recalled models, low-priced leasing and the free maintenance offer.

Carter said Toyota dealers have so far repaired about 2 million recalled cars and trucks in the U.S. Dealers are repairing about 50,000 vehicles a day, he said, by adding metal shims to the accelerators and shaving down pedals.

Automakers are scheduled to report March sales on Thursday. Toyota's sales fell 9 percent in February while the broader industry saw sales climb 13 percent.

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