Nissan doesn't want used Toyotas. It just wants their owners to become customers.
In a promotion aiming to capitalize on Toyota's recall woes, Nissan is offering a $1,000 manufacturer rebate to any Toyota driver who shows proof of registration and buys a new Nissan.
No trade-in necessary, though they will take one.
"Basically, you just have to prove you own a Toyota," said Carl Hall of Morris Nissan in West Ashley. "Bring a title or registration and get an additional $1,000 on top of any other promotion right now."
Toyota is Nissan's No. 1 competitor, Hall said, and Toyota's recalls over the past few weeks of some of the best-selling cars in America hurt the automobile industry as a whole.
"Nissan is not trying to destroy Toyota's name," Hall said. "We are just trying to assist people who have any doubts with their product right now."
Nissan's nationwide offer ends Feb. 28, though it could be extended if Toyota recalls its popular Corolla because of new concerns over power steering problems, Hall said.
One local Toyota dealer called the promotion "dangerous."
"It's an opportunist taking advantage of a situation," said Paul Whatley, general manager of Gene Reed Toyota in North Charleston. "That's probably not a good thing to do. I think it's a very dangerous thing for them to do. All car manufacturers have recalls."
Toyota has recalled more than 8.1 million vehicles for problems related to sticking gas pedals, floor mats that can snag the accelerator and unresponsive brake pedals on different models.
In late January, Toyota took the unprecedented step of halting production and sales of several models, including the top-selling Camry, to repair the sticking gas pedals.
Since then, the company developed a quick fix the size of a postage stamp and delivered it to dealers across the nation so they could start repairing affected vehicles as fast as possible. They also have repaired any new cars included in the recalls.
"Everything we have is for sale now," Whatley said. "We have repaired over 1,000 of the recalls."
As for sales during February, Whatley said new Toyota car sales will be down at the dealer, but it picked up volume on used vehicles and expects to have a respectable showing at month's end.
To lure customers back into showrooms, Whatley said the incentive level is double on certain models.
Offers include zero percent interest on some models, loyalty rebates for Toyota owners who buy another Toyota and dealer cash incentives, or unadvertised conquest money used to close a deal.
With a combination of incentives, a new Camry, for instance, will cost about $4,000 less right now, Whatley said. A new Corolla, about $3,500 less.
"We have some unprecedented rebates on cars right now," he said.
At Hudson Nissan in North Charleston, the same offer stands as that of its competitor, Morris Nissan.
"It's in a lot of people's minds right now," Hudson Nissan general manager Tom Downing said of Toyota's troubles. But he said all the problems will be a memory in a few short weeks as Toyota rights itself.
"I think it will be short-lived," Downing said. "It's still a great car. It just has a few issues. Every manufacturer has its challenges. It's affecting them right now."
Pat Watson, executive vice president of the South Carolina Automobile Dealers Association, didn't want to comment on Nissan's advertising tactics, but he described Toyota's recall issues as "big."
"Anytime anything like this happens, it affects the whole industry," Watson said. "As these things continue to be revamped and reworked, I would expect to see things like that from other manufacturers in the industry. We are working with more computers and cables than ever before."
Reach Warren Wise at 937-5524 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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