Toyota Goes To “Zero Percent” Financing As Its Sales Go To Hell

October 17, 2008 by Douglas A. McIntyre

Ford1Toyota is not supposed to have to give out any incentives to sell its cars. They perform better than other vehicles in customer satisfaction tests. They get good gas mileage. Toyota virtually invented the hybrid and its Prius has sold over one million units worldwide.

The Japanese firm says it is going to use it balance sheet to further cripple other car companies selling vehicles in the US. It will begin to offer “zero percent” financing on a number of its models.

Toyota says its new effort is “aimed at boosting the auto maker’s market share at the expense of its struggling Detroit-based rivals, according to The Wall Street Journal.

But, who leaves money on the table? The fact of the matter is that Toyota sales in the US this year are off almost as much as GM’s (GM). Its Japanese rivals Honda (HMC) and Nissan are picking up market share in America.

Toyota is now the No. 2 seller of cars in the US, having taken that distinction from Ford (F). It is not plagued by the same troubled the big three. It has 15% of the American car market. Getting more share is harder as the company’s piece gets larger. Its success also makes it the target of every other player in the field.

When Toyota aspired to be the market leader, it still had room to grow and most of its peers did not have to pay it a tremendous amount of attention.

Now, it is the most imitated auto firm in the world.

Douglas A. McIntyre