Toyota reports sales exceed expectations

TOKYO — A high-ranking Toyota executive says the automaker’s North American sales spiked around 50 percent the first eight days of March as incentives helped lure customers after a series of embarrassing safety recalls.

Don Esmond, senior vice president of automotive operation for Toyota Motor Sales, says that the early numbers surpassed the company’s expectations.

Esmond says there is pent-up demand from buyers who didn’t shop for cars during last year’s economic downturn. He also credits new sales incentives enacted this month, including 0 percent financing offers for eight Toyota models.

Earlier Tuesday, he addressed about 800 officials from Toyota supply companies attending an annual business meeting.

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