For years, if you wanted to buy a Toyota you knew that you weren't going to get much of a deal. It was a given. Some people grumbled about it, but most looked at it as the price you paid for peace of mind. After all, when you bought a new Camry or Corolla you knew the car wasn't going to break down or be part of a major recall like many of its American rivals.
Those were the days.
The "peace of mind premium" is evaporating. Toyota dealers who once could tell you "this is the price, that's the bottom line" are now finding themselves dropping below the suggested retail price, and down close to the invoice price. They don't have much a choice. If they don't play ball, buyers will walk across the street.
They're already drifting away from Toyota on line, where most people do their early research into what they want to buy. At Kelley Blue Book, a new survey found the percentage of buyers considering Toyota has dropped the last two weeks. According to KBB.com, "27 percent of those who said they were considering a Toyota prior to the recall now say they no longer are considering the brand for their next vehicle."
Who can blame them? The recall of 8.5 million cars worldwide is bad enough, but the continuing swirling of questions about whether Toyota dragged its feet dealing with unintended acceleration is what bothers many people I've talked with. If they're asking me about it, you can bet they're bringing it up to dealers when they're looking over a new car or truck. It's one more obstacle for Toyota dealers, so they have to go further to win over buyers.
At a time when the competition has stepped up with better made, better designed cars and trucks, Toyota finds itself having to work harder to close deals. The "peace of mind premium" is fading away. "Pricing to close the deal" is becoming the new reality for Toyota.
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