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Carmakers using deals to lure buyers away from Toyota

Toyota has told dealers it's preparing a plan

Toyota has told dealers it's preparing a plan to repair the brakes on thousands of hybrid Prius cars in the U.S. (February 6, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

As Toyota announces yet another recall - for 8,000 compact pickup trucks nationwide - some competitors are trying to capitalize on the firm's widening crisis with special discounts beyond what's usually offered on President's Day weekend.

General Motors, Chrysler, Ford and Nissan are offering special deals - an extra $1,000 cash back on Chevrolet Malibu and Ford Fusion, for example - to lure disaffected Toyota owners or would-be buyers.

Honda says it's offering special discounts - including cut-rate financing on Accords - to "remain competitive" but that none are aimed specifically at Toyota customers.

Toyota's problems, meanwhile, continue to mount. It announced Friday afternoon it was recalling the 2010 Tacoma pickups made between December and early this month because of possible cracks and failure of drive shaft parts produced by an outside supplier.

The announcement came three days after Toyota said it would recall 7,314 2010 Camrys in the United States for power steering leaks and four days after it announced the recall of 437,000 Prius and other hybrid cars worldwide over a software problem in the braking system.

That, in turn, followed the recall of 2.3 million vehicles for potentially sticky accelerator pedals just one week earlier. Some of those vehicles also were involved in an earlier recall of Toyota and Lexus vehicles for accelerator pedals that could become trapped under floor mats.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, meanwhile, is investigating complaints of steering problems in 2009 and 2010 Corollas.

Even if there are no more recalls, more negative press is likely with congressional hearings Feb. 24, 25 and March 2 into Toyota's handling of the episode.

The special offers aimed at disaffected Toyota shoppers or owners include one by Chrysler and Dodge offering 60-day money-back guarantees on minivans for those who trade in certain competitors. says two other Camry competitors, the Nissan Maxima and Dodge Charger, are available at special discount this weekend for buyers who trade in Toyotas.

So far, the effect of the crisis on Toyota competitors has been mixed. "I see some improvement, but not a lot," said sales manager Al Green at Honda City in Levittown.

But at Robert Chevrolet in Hicksville, co-owner Scott Brown said his sales so far this year are almost double those of a year earlier - mostly on higher Malibu sales. "The good thing is we have the product to take advantage of this situation," Brown said.

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