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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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GM, Ford luring Toyota drivers

February 24, 2010 - 11:17 AM | by: Caroline Shively

One company’s recall can be another company’s windfall.  At least that’s what carmakers are hoping in the wake of Toyota’s recall of 8.5 million vehicles and brutal Congressional hearings.

General Motors and Ford have both offered $1,000 discounts on their models for drivers who trade in a Toyota.  But besides some local dealers taking out newspaper ads, the two American companies haven’t exactly been crowing about the deals.

That’s because it’s a delicate balance for car companies, knowing that Toyota’s problems today could potentially be theirs tomorrow.  Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told a House panel on Tuesday, “Look at the statistics.  Over the last three years, [we've seen] 23 million [recalls] of automobiles as a result of our investigations.  And the vast majority were not Toyota.”

But statistics aren’t grabbing the headlines; stories of car crashes and run-away Toyotas are.  That’s changing the minds of some drivers, according to a Kelley Blue Book survey done in early February.  The survey shows more than a quarter of drivers considering a Toyota before the recalls have now changed their minds.

Toyota’s competitors are ready to scoop up those potential buyers.  That same Kelley Blue Book survey showed Chevy drivers’ loyalty went up 6.5% and Ford’s increased by 4.6% during the same time period.  Honda also jumped in the survey, giving it the most loyal customer base.

All these manufacturers know that’s where the car game is won and lost – locking in future customers.  After a dismal few years for vehicle sales, GM and Ford are hoping discounts and solid products will increase their piece of the sales pie.

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