• Kyodo

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Toyota Motor Corp.’s new car sales in the United States rose 24.4 percent in April from a year before to 157,439 units, marking the second consecutive month of strong growth, according to a U.S. research firm.

The rise, following a 40.7 percent increase in March, signals that the crisis-hit automaker is making a solid recovery after its sales sank to a 12-year low in February due to massive recalls.

The improvement is riding on the back of aggressive sales incentives featuring up to 60 months of interest-free loans and two years of free maintenance service. These measures will be in place until June 1.

Toyota has been hurt by massive recalls of some of its most popular models. It started recalling 2.21 million vehicles Jan. 21 and suspended sales of eight popular models, including the Camry and the Corolla, from the last week of January through early February to address faulty gas pedals.

In April, Toyota was third in sales among companies operating in the United States, following General Motors Co., which saw sales rise 7.2 percent to 183,614 units, and Ford Motor Co., whose sales jumped 25.7 percent to 162,737 units, Autodata Corp. said Monday.

Toyota was No. 2 in March, trailing only GM.

Chrysler Group LLC, another of the Big Three U.S. carmakers, was ranked fourth in April after its sales grew 24.8 percent to 95,703 units.

The combined sales of the U.S. Big Three soared 17.1 percent to 442,054 units, commanding a 45.0 percent share of the new car market, up from 43.0 percent in March, Autodata said.

Sales by all automakers operating in the United States totaled 982,131 units in April, up 19.8 percent for the sixth consecutive month of year-on-year growth.

The April sales translate into an annualized 11.21 million units, up from 9.23 million units in April 2009, the research firm said.

Among other Japanese carmakers, sales climbed 12.5 percent to 113,697 units for Honda Motor Co., 35.1 percent to 63,769 units for Nissan Motor Co., and 17.3 percent to 18,935 units for Mazda Motor Corp.

Meanwhile, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. saw its sales rise 48.2 percent to 23,198 units, and Mitsubishi Motors Corp.’s increased 0.3 percent to 3,932 units.

But sales fell 23.3 percent to 1,950 units for Suzuki Motor Corp., Autodata said.

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