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Rivals prowl, discreetly, for Toyota trade-ins

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Rivals prowl, discreetly, for Toyota trade-ins

Chrissie Thompson

Automotive News -- February 8, 2010 - 12:01 am ET

With Toyota Motor Corp. under fire, rivals have made some overtures to lure skittish Toyota shoppers but have stopped short of a hard sell on safety.

The day after Toyota's Jan. 26 sales freeze on eight models linked to unintended acceleration, General Motors Co. targeted Toyota and Lexus owners with incentives to buy a Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac.

The offers, valid through February, range from $1,000 off the purchase price to 0 percent financing for up to 60 months.

But GM stopped there -- instead of, say, advertising that its vehicles have brakes that override or overpower the accelerator and defeat unintended acceleration.

The next day, Ford Motor Co. offered rebates to Toyota, Lexus and Scion owners -- but also included Honda and Acura in its $1,000 offer.

Ford executives advised their marketing team to stick to Ford's usual product-focused message and commitment to environmental technology.

Last year Toyota avoided overt marketing to woo customers of GM and Chrysler during their bankruptcies.

Despite GM's choice not to market its brake overrides, Chris Haydocy, who owns two GM stores in central Ohio, said he has told customers about the systems.

"Their jaw just dropped," he said.

"I think GM's point of view is, 'If you press the accelerator and the brake at the same time, 100 percent of time, the brake wins.'

"It's not a real flashy thing that you can advertise, but it does add a lot of value."

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