Toyota Turns To Zero-Precent

Some will call it the canary in the coal mine for the auto industry—when Toyota resorts to zero-percent financing.

Actually, it seems more like a case of matching the right incentive to the right circumstance. Toyota dealers are choking as badly on their pickups and big SUVs as Detroit has been.

Toyota had its worst monthly sales decline in four decades in September, down more than 30%. So, it is offering zero-percent on 11 models through Nov. 3. The loans range from 36 to 60 months, depending on the model. The Toyota models qualifying for the offer: Matrix, Corolla, Camry, RAV4, Highlander, FJ Cruiser, 4Runner, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma and Tundra.

Toyota dealers have been trying to boost sales of the slower selling models by qualifying lower-credit worthy customers for SUVs and pickups, and customers who come in looking for used cars. Not just Toyota dealers are doing that, but it is, say some industry analysts and executives at rival companies, fairly new for Toyota.