DETROIT (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp is offering interest-free loans to U.S. consumers across most of its lineup in a rare move that follows a surprising 32 percent slide in its U.S. sales in September, its steepest drop in decades.
Toyota, which typically has stayed away from such aggressive consumer incentives that are typically associated with Detroit-based carmakers, said late Thursday it was offering zero-percent loans for terms ranging from three to five years.
The offer runs through November 3 and is aimed at assisting buyers sidelined by the credit squeeze.
The interest-free loans are available on 11 vehicles, including its best-selling sedans Corolla and Camry, and the Tundra full-size pickup truck. Toyota also is offering it on the Matrix car; RAV4, Highlander, FJ Cruiser, 4Runner and Sequoia SUVs; Sienna minivan; and Tacoma pickup truck.
U.S. industrywide auto sales plunged 26 percent in September and the adjusted annual rate of sales, a key figure watched by economists, bumped along at a 15-year low amid the severe credit crunch that has rocked U.S. consumer confidence, especially in the last 10 days of the month.
Every major automaker posted sales declines in September.
Toyota was also hurt by the housing crisis in its key markets -- California and Florida -- and by Hurricane Ike.
Reporting by Poornima Gupta, editing by Gerald E. McCormick