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By Mark Kleis

When the dust had settled around the massive investigations, congressional hearings and media attention concerning Toyota’s unintended acceleration woes, the automaker decided the best solution to jump start its sales would be to offer historically high incentives. At first, the plan appeared to accomplish the goal of moving cars from Toyota’s lots as sales jumped substantially in March and April compared to its abnormally low performances in January and February.

Now, data collected from Edmunds suggests that the boost in sales for the struggling Japanese automaker may have been more short lived than originally anticipated. Edmunds says that it appears as if Toyota’s incentives are no longer moving cars as they first did, as Toyota’s sales have dropped 17 percent compared to April (2010).

“We’re noticing that Toyota’s incentive program is starting to fall on deaf ears since most of the people who were open to getting deals from the automaker already made their purchases,” said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds analyst. “Our Toyota cross-shopping data indicates that the brand has not yet recovered from recent image problems.”

This drop in sales suggests a more serious problem that Leftlane first reported on May 10th, as analysts then expected Toyota’s sales to drop off substantially once the incentives were normalized in June – not during May as incentives continued.

Compare and contrast

Due to the volatility of the auto market in 2009, comparing month after month sales figures in 2010 can also help to show industry patterns and trends. In the month of May, General Motors has increased retail sales by 9 percent, contrasting Toyota’s drop in retail sales of 17 percent, when compared to last month [April 2010].

GM has also drastically boosted fleet sales for 2010, with fleet sales up a staggering 53 percent compared to the same three months in 2009. GM has increased its fleet sales from 70,000 units in the first three months to 148,000 units sold, according to a CNW columnist. Overall, GM’s fleet sales comprised 31 percent of its total sales for the first three months of 2010, compared to 17 percent for the same period in 2009.



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