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Toyota Purchase Intent Soars Nearly 40 Percent After Incentives Announcement

March 05, 2010

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Toyota’s announcement of zero-percent financing and special lease deals generated nearly a 40 percent spike in purchase intent by visitors to Edmunds.com.

In January, Toyota’s purchase intent averaged just over 13 percent and then fell to a 9.7 percent low as a result of the recall announcements. On March 1, Toyota purchase intent had recovered to 13 percent. On March 2, when the incentives program was announced, Toyota purchase intent soared to 18 percent — a 14-month high.

Slightly later announcements of zero-percent financing by Chrysler and General Motors didn’t have the same effect. In fact, Chrysler purchase intent decreased from 3.3 percent to 2.9 percent and GM purchase intent rose slightly from 12.6 percent to 12.7 percent.

“Because of the Toyota recall, people have been closely watching the company’s moves, and many were ready to take action upon hearing the announcement of this highly-anticipated incentives program,” noted Edmunds.com Senior Analyst David Tompkins, PhD. “Chrysler and GM didn’t get quite as much attention for two main reasons: historically — such as in the Keep America Rolling campaign in 2001 — followers never get the same level of attention that the initiators do, and, second, this type of announcement is far more rare for Toyota.”

“The Toyota recall saga allowed other automakers to snag some market share, and now Toyota wants it back,” said George Kang, senior Analyst at Edmunds.com. “Despite their ongoing challenges, the company still has plenty of brand strength and consumer confidence.”

The following chart sets forth Edmunds.com’s purchase intent metric for the specific brands covered by the new incentives programs:

Purchase Intent –
March 1, 2010

Purchase Intent –
March 2, 2010

Purchase Intent Percentage
Change from March 1-2, 2010

Chrysler (including Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram)

3.3%

2.9%

-12.1%

General Motors

12.6%

12.7%

0.8 %

Toyota Brand (not including Lexus and Scion)

13.0%

18.0%

38.5%

Buick Enclave

16.1%

17.6%

9.3%

Cadillac CTS

3.2%

3.3%

3.1%

Chevrolet Malibu

5.5%

5.3%

-3.6%

Chrysler Town and Country

4.2%

4.4%

4.8%

Dodge Ram 1500

7.7%

6.5%

-15.6%

Jeep Wrangler

17.9%

15.3%

-14.5%

Toyota Camry

8.9%

13.0%

46.1%

Toyota Corolla

6.3%

9.0%

42.9%

Toyota RAV4

11.5%

17.9%

55.7%

"Purchase intent" measures actual buyer interest reflected by pricing research, vehicle configuration and other focused steps. Purchase intent has a strong correlation to sales. Automaker purchase intent reflects share of total Edmunds.com traffic engaged in purchase intent activity, while model-level data reflects share of Edmunds.com traffic engaged in purchase intent activity within the indicated model’s segment.

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Incentive Spending Increases as Automakers Entice Toyota Customers

Edmunds.com estimated that the average automaker incentive in the United States was $2,588 per vehicle sold in February 2010, up $248, or 10.6 percent, from January 2010, but down $422, or 14.0 percent, from February 2009.