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GM offers incentive to Toyota, Lexus owners

DETROIT — General Motors Co., seeking to capitalize on the problems plaguing Toyota Motor Corp.‘s vehicles, will offer a monthlong incentive to Toyota and Lexus owners.

The move is in response to “thousands” of calls and e-mails to dealers and GM employees from Toyota owners asking for help, GM spokesman Tom Henderson said today.

The incentive, which runs through the end of February, offers Toyota and Lexus owners three options, Henderson said:

1. Those who choose to lease a vehicle may waive three payments for up to a total of $1,000.

2. Qualifying customers who are financing a vehicle purchase can receive 0 percent financing for up to 60 months.

3. Cash buyers can receive $1,000 off their purchase.

The incentive applies to purchases of GMC, Buick, Cadillac and Chevrolet vehicles, Henderson said.

Toyota last week recalled 2.3 million vehicles to fix accelerator pedals that could become stuck. That recall number included some 2009-10 Pontiac Vibes, the sibling crossover of the Toyota Matrix. Both were produced in California by a former joint venture between GM and Toyota, New United Motor Manufacturing Inc.

Late yesterday, Toyota said it would suspend sales of vehicles with the affected pedals. That includes the 1,400 Pontiac Vibes left in North America, GM spokesman Alan Adler said today.

Only six Vibes are left in the United States — the rest are in Canada. And four of the U.S. Vibes are technically sold but still may be on dealers’ lots, Adler said.

GM won’t sell the two unsold U.S. Vibes, he said.

GM expects Toyota will pay for all recall work, Adler said, but the automaker is waiting for Toyota to give instructions to Buick-GMC dealers for fixing Vibes.

“Ultimately, GM dealers would fix Pontiac vehicles, but it’s up to Toyota to provide the remedy,” Adler said today.

Toyota spokesmen didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

It was unclear if any other automakers would follow GM’s lead.

Said Ford spokesman Robert Parker: “We have not changed our focus, which is to provide all customers with products they want and value. It is through the strength of our new products – with leading quality, fuel efficiency, safety, smart design and value – that we have been and will continue to attract new customers.”

Hyundai isn’t currently planning an incentive aimed at Toyota, spokesman Chris Hosford said today, but the company is still considering doing so.

“Every day in the car business is new,” Hosford said. “Tomorrow, we could see something that changes the situation.”

Chrysler spokeswoman Kathy Graham said:

“We’re not doing anything to target Toyota customers at this time. Our focus has been on getting the word out to consumers that the new company has great vehicles with cool features and making sure we’re building our brands and letting customers know. Nothing has changed.”

Chrissie Thompson
You can reach Chrissie Thompson at
Automotive News — January 27, 2010 – 4:21 pm ET
UPDATED: 1/27/10 5:12 p.m. ET
Jamie LaReau and Bradford Wernle contributed to this report

John Paul Strong

John Paul Strong combines his two decades of automotive marketing experience with a team of more than 150 professionals as owner and CEO of Strong Automotive.

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