Toyota in Turmoil

Lately, Toyota has been running ads that show happy customers who recently bought a new Toyota.

Lately, Toyota has been running ads that show happy customers who recently bought a new Toyota. The intended message is that Toyotas are still selling well. But a look at sales figures for February, say auto industry analysts, shows the situation is definitely not that rosy. Partly because of a moratorium on some models, sales of all Toyota vehicles, including trucks, have fallen 12.4% from last year’s levels. Sales of the Camry, Toyota’s flagship model, have dropped 21% this year, while sales of the Corolla have slipped 8.6%.

Toyota’s ills have proven somewhat contagious, impacting Honda, which had just a 3.9% year-over-year increase in sales. In contrast, Ford notched a 34.3% jump in year-over-year sales, and GM turned in sported a 13.7% increase. In the small-car market, domestic autos thumped Japanese imports, racking up a 100.3% leap in sales for the Chevy Cobalt and a 40.4 % boost for the Ford Escape, compared to the drop in sales for the Corolla and just a 4.3% increase for the Honda Civic.

One result of the crisis has been a spate of deals, not only on Toyotas, but on competing brands as well. Toyota, which has often stood on the sidelines while domestic auto makers were rolling out lucrative sales incentives, is offering sweetened lease deals with no money down and higher residual values, which can effectively lower monthly lease payments. The company is also pushing rebates and no-interest loans on car purchases. The competition isn’t sitting back either. GM, Ford, and other car makers are targeting Toyota owners, offering rebates and low interest rates to those who trade in their cars. For a complete list of auto makers’ incentives and rebates, check out Edmunds.com.