Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Toyota may make warranties longer

ORLANDO, Fla. — Toyota Motor Corp. may offer incentives or increase the length of its warranties as it tries to recover from an embarrassing string of safety-related recalls.
The company has not decided exactly what it will do after it gets past the recalls — which include more than 8 million vehicles worldwide — for sticky gas pedals, floor mats that can snag the accelerator and a software glitch in the brakes of its Prius gas-electric hybrid, said Group Vice President Bob Carter.

Carter told reporters at the National Automobile Dealers Association Convention in Orlando that it is focused on repairing customer cars and restoring their faith in the brand, which has had a reputation for bulletproof reliability for years.

Toyota already is offering zero percent financing for 60 months in some of its regions, as well as cash to dealers to help sweeten deals, and Carter said the company may do an incentive campaign once it gets through the recalls.

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"We'll be very confident that we will give our dealers a very good competitive program," said Don Esmond, Toyota's senior vice president for automotive operations in the U.S.

Dealers, Carter said, have fixed more than 500,000 of the 2.3 million cars and trucks covered by the sticky gas pedal recall, and they are repairing about 50,000 cars a day.

He also said the company has only 13 reports of sticking pedals in the U.S. and Canada of the 2.3 million cars and trucks involved in the pedal recall.

"This is a very, very, very rare occurrence," he said. "Please help us put some perspective on what's happening. Thirteen is too many; we've got to take care of this."

Dealers are happy now

About 300 dealers met with Carter and Esmond on Monday to talk about their business. Several said afterward that customers have the mistaken impression that the dealers are not selling cars because of publicity about Toyota stopping sales of models in the pedal recall.

Toyota suspended sales of some of the eight U.S.-made models covered by the recall until dealers could fix them.

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