Toyota to announce March incentives in U.S.

DETROIT (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp 7203.T will roll out an aggressive incentive program for U.S. consumers in March, including zero-percent financing for five years and two-year free maintenance, a source briefed on the matter said on Monday.

Toyota automobiles are parked in snowy lot at a dealership in Roslyn, New York, March 1, 2010. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The new incentives, which will start Tuesday and run through March, come as the world’s biggest automaker attempts to connect with U.S. consumers after a storm of safety recalls that have damaged its reputation and cut into sales.

Toyota will offer zero-percent financing for 60 months on some 2010 model year vehicles, including its most popular Camry and Corolla sedans and other vehicles involved in safety recalls, the source told Reuters.

Returning Toyota customers will also receive a complimentary two-year “Toyota Auto Care Premium Package” that includes oil changes and other maintenance services, the source said. Cash rebates ranging from $500 to $3,000 will also be offered depending on vehicles, the source added.

The person declined to be identified because the information has yet to be announced by Toyota.

On Monday, in what Toyota said was not a safety recall but a “limited service campaign,” the automaker told dealers who sold nearly 1 million vehicles that an oil hose may leak. Owners will be told to bring their cars to dealers for a fix.

That effort involves some vehicles with V6 engines, including late-year models of Camry, Avalon, Rav4, and Lexus 350 ES and 350 RX.

A Toyota spokeswoman said the company planned to announce a new incentive program when it releases its U.S. sales figures for February on Tuesday. She declined to comment on the specifics.

The February sales results are expected to show Toyota took a significant hit from the safety crisis that has led to a recall of more than 8.5 million vehicles worldwide and suspension of sales on some models in the key U.S. market.

February Toyota U.S. sales will show a fall of 25 percent or more, according to Jesse Toprak, of

Toyota’s U.S. sales dropped 16 percent in January, to the lowest level in more than a decade, after it shut down sales of about half of its inventory of vehicles including Camry and Corolla.

Toyota, No. 2 in U.S. sales behind GM, saw its U.S. market share fall to 14 percent in January -- its lowest level since January 2006 -- from 17 percent for full-year 2009.

Reporting by Soyoung Kim and Bernie Woodall; Editing by Steve Orlofsky, Leslie Gevirtz