Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. is launching new incentives and a broad advertising campaign it says is designed to add fuel to a post-recall sales recovery.
The incentives, which include 0%/60-month financing offers across most of thebrand’s core model lineup, is effective immediately and runs through March 31. Additional discounts, such as down-payment assistance, lease programs and special offers to loyal customers, will be available on certain models, including the Camry.
The advertising campaign, which will launch President’s Day weekend, will focus on Toyota’s standing as the No.1-selling brand in the U.S. “and the reasons behind it,” says Bob Carter, group vice president and Toyota Div. general manager.
The ads in particular will promote Toyota’s Camry and Corolla cars and Tacoma small pickup, and highlight the brand’s overall fuel efficiency, Carter says in a conference call to discuss January U.S. sales.
Carter says the ad campaign will help keep momentum going for the brand, which has been working to restore its image following a spate of recall campaigns over the past year that have taken their toll on showroom traffic.
“We want to build on January’s momentum,” Carter says, adding loyalty and conquest rates for the Toyota brand have returned to pre-recall levels.
“Our issue wasn’t retention of existing owners, it was attracting new buyers,” he says. “We’re seeing that improve and return.”
The market currently is being driven by buyers seeking bargains, Carter says, “and we’re confident our new (incentive) program will get us off to a fast start. We’re going to stay aggressive in the market.”
Toyota’s U.S. light-vehicle sales totaled 115,856 units, up 17.3% on a daily basis from a weak year-ago’s 98,796. Fleet sales accounted for 12.5% of the mix, slightly higher than the less-than-10% Toyota typically averages.
The Toyota brand carried the day, with overall sales up 23.7%. Prius (up 25.4%), Camry (14.9%) and Corolla (20.2%) were among the strongest performers on the car side, while the Sienna (up 145.7%), Highlander (67.6%), Tundra (55.9%) and RAV4 (41.8%) led the truck sector.
Lexus posted a decline, with total light-vehicle sales off 17.1%, as both cars and trucks trailed year-ago results. Carter blames the performance on pull-ahead sales in December, when the brand was pushing volume in a year-end battle with theand Mercedes for luxury-vehicle sales leadership.
“Frankly, Lexus got off to slow start in January,” he says. But that was “more of timing situation than anything.”