ORLANDO - Toyota Motor Corp is planning an aggressive incentive program for March to lure U.S. consumers sidelined by a deepening product safety crisis, executives said on Monday.
The world's largest automaker, reeling from the largest recall in its history, said most of the vehicles at its U.S. showrooms have been repaired and are back for sale, adding it is evaluating a range of options to support sales next month.
We are studying everything, U.S. sales chief Bob Carter told reporters after a meeting with nearly 300 Toyota dealers at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention. All are under evaluation.
Don Esmond, senior vice president of Toyota Motor Sales USA, said Toyota will be as aggressive as needed to help dealers keep existing customers and attract new ones.
We'll figure what the right cruise missile will be, said Esmond.
But the executives said the company had yet to make decisions on the new marketing push and declined to elaborate on the options being considered.
Toyota's U.S. sales dropped 16 percent in January to the lowest level in more than a decade after it suspended sales of about half of its inventory of vehicles including the popular Camry and Corolla sedans, due to safety recalls over potentially sticky accelerator pedals.
Overall U.S. industry sales were up 6 percent last month.
Esmond said most of Toyota's inventory of 131,000 vehicles involved in the recall have had their pedals repaired and by the end of February, almost all of them will be back in showrooms.
U.S. auto sales are tracking at about 10.7 million to 10.8 million units on the annualized rate in February, Carter said. Toyota's sales will be down in February, he said but added its share of the U.S. market was holding up and stable despite the recall crisis.
Toyota, No. 2 in U.S. sales behind General Motors Co, saw its U.S. market share fall to 14 percent in January -- its lowest level since January 2006 -- from 17 percent for full-year 2009.