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Black Buying Power:
  $744 Billion (2006)

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Toyota prepares $1 Billion marketing blitz for fourth quarter

By Alan Ohnsman
(September 17, 2009) Toyota Motor Corp., the world's largest carmaker, said it will spend a "larger than average" $1 billion on U.S. marketing in the fourth quarter as the country's economy begins to recover.

"We're starting to see some glimmers of hope out there," Irv Miller, group vice president for Toyota's U.S. sales unit, said in an interview. "We feel there's momentum coming out of August, and our inventory level is very good, so the time is right."

Toyota plans to spend more on advertising, incentives and dealer support after the government's "cash for clunkers" program, which helped it boost U.S. sales 6.4 percent last month, ended on Aug. 24. Detroit-based General Motors Co. has also announced plans for a marketing push, including a 60-day money- back guarantee and advertisements featuring Chairman Ed Whitacre.

"It makes sense for Toyota to increase spending," said Yasuhiro Matsumoto, a senior analyst at Shinsei Securities Co. in Tokyo. "Inventories have come down, and demand is coming back."

The Toyota City, Japan-based automaker's inventories fell to just 11 days at the beginning of the month. Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles accounted for more than 19 percent of sales under the ‘‘clunkers'' program.

Economic Rebound

Toyota's marketing budget was disclosed to dealers at a meeting attended by President Akio Toyoda in Las Vegas on Sept. 15, Miller said. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that it was as much as 40 percent more than the company would typically spend. Miller declined to confirm that figure.

Toyota rose 50 yen, or 1.4 percent, to 3,760 yen as of 12:48 p.m. on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Reports on industrial production and consumer prices yesterday showed the U.S. economy is emerging from the recession. Output at factories, mines and utilities climbed 0.8 percent last month, exceeding the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, data from the Federal Reserve in Washington showed.

GM also called back 1,350 union workers last month, its biggest one-time increase in jobs since 2006, as it boosted second-half production in part because of the federal subsidies.

Even with the incentive program, GM's U.S. sales fell 20 percent in August. Industrywide auto sales in the nation declined 28 percent through August this year.

Toyota is also studying the addition of models bearing the Prius name that would be variations of its top-selling gasoline- electric hybrid car.

"Prius is a very significant brand name for Toyota, arguably our most significant at this point," Miller said. "We've said for some time it would be logical to expand on that. You may see something soon."

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