I shouldn’t feel bad for the world’s largest automaker just because it stands to lose a few percentage points of market share. Toyota is obviously having a bit of a rough patch, and it’s no surprise that other automakers want to take advantage and try to steal some customers.
Toyota’s two latest major recalls and last week’s decision to cease sales of eight models over safety concerns is sure to put the company’s sales numbers at risk. Even longtime Toyota customers are fleeing to other brands.
While it’s a nightmare for Toyota, it’s an opportunity for Ford, GM, and Chrysler to take advantage and get some of those uncertain ToMoCo customers into domestic vehicles.
General Motors was first to woo Toyota owners by offering a $1,000 trade-in bonus for Toyota models. Ford followed suit, and then Chrysler stepped in and is offering $1,000 trade-in cash for any Toyota Tundra, Tacoma, or Sienna owners on a lease or purchase of any new Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, or Ram vehicle.
I realize that’s how business works, but I think it’s a cheap shot at a company that’s already down. Ford just reported a 2009 profit of $2.7 billion, after a 2008 loss of nearly $15 billion. GM expects a “double digit” sales increase from last January. The companies are starting to turn around, and offering the Toyota trade-in incentives just makes them look like desperate vultures, especially considering many Toyota customers would consider change anyway.
Honda, meanwhile, has decided not to offer any incentives to Toyota drivers, saying in a letter to its dealers, it “will not react in a predatory way toward either Toyota or Toyota customers.”
If I were a disgruntled Toyota driver, Honda would have my attention by acting classy and taking the high road when a respected competitor fell on hard times.
Toyota fans: Will a financial incentive from another automaker draw you away from your favorite car brand, or will you stay loyal?