Incentives Drive Ford, GM, Toyota to Big Jump in Sales

Car salesFord and General Motors each saw March sales soar 43 percent compared to a year ago, a result of purchase and lease incentives in response to Toyota’s first zero-percent financing program.
Toyota itself saw a 41 percent gain in sales that includes some of the same  models that have been recalled. Its tally of 186,863 units sold in March beat both Ford and GM.
Toyota had recorded a 12 percent decline in January and February. estimates that Toyota’s incentives in March cost $2,256 for every vehicle sold – the highest level ever for Toyota in the U.S.
Industry-wide, much of the zero-percent financing or zero-down lease deals are continuing in April, as Toyota is expected stay the course in its promotions this month. Toyota rival, Honda, saw U.S. sales climb 22 percent in March.
Such a widespread and deep discount program is rare for Toyota. In February, it launched a massive recall of 8.5 million vehicles for unintended acceleration issues.
“Toyota’s strong sales performance in March reflects our customers’ continued confidence in the safety and reliability of our vehicles and their trust in the brand,” said Don Esmond, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. “We are standing by our cars, and we’re grateful that our customers are standing by Toyota.”
GM’s Chevrolet, Buick GMC and Cadillac brands in the United States combined for 185,406 units sold during March, a 34 percent increase from February 2010, and a 43 percent jump from a year ago.
Ford, Lincoln and Mercury dealers delivered 178,546 new vehicles in March, a 43 percent increase from a year ago.
First quarter sales totaled 428,596, up 37 percent. The 43 percent gain matches a similar increase in February.
“These are the highest monthly sales increases since February 1984,” a Ford statement said.
Ford and GM either expanded current discounts or launched new ones in response to Toyota’s successful promotion.

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