NEW YORK —Toyota’s sales surged 40 percent in March, a top company executive said Wednesday, as the automaker offered its deepest discounts ever to cope with the fallout of millions of recalls which began last fall.

Toyota rolled out the aggressive incentives early in March, including 0-percent financing on recalled models, low-priced leasing and free maintenance. The incentives aimed to draw customers into showrooms even as Toyota grappled with the recall of more than 8 million cars and trucks around the world. Those recalls, which had expanded since October, were to fix gas pedal and brake problems in some of the company’s biggest sellers, including the Camry.

Automakers are scheduled to report March U.S. sales on Thursday. Toyota’s sales fell 9 percent in February while the broader industry’s climbed 13 percent.

The incentives are supposed to end April 5, but Toyota Group Vice President Bob Carter said some will continue into the spring, including free maintenance for return Toyota customers.

“When you look at what retail consumers are buying, many more retail consumers are going to be buying Toyotas in the month of March than any other brand,” Carter said in an interview with The Associated Press at the New York International Auto Show, which kicked off with press previews Wednesday.

Toyota had a subdued presence at the show, which opens to the public on Friday. Toyota and Lexus held no press conferences and had no vehicle debuts, but its Scion brand unveiled a production model of the iQ minicar and a redesigned tC coupe.

The iQ is geared toward urban dwellers and is already sold in Europe and Japan as a Toyota-badged vehicle. It goes on sale in the U.S. early next year. The tC goes on sale this fall.

Carter said Toyota would give updates on its incentive programs on Monday, but added that any changes would be small. “They’re working very well,” he said.

Carter said one big seller in March was the RAV4 small SUV, which saw sales more than triple from February to about 24,000. Those sales got a boost from trade-ins from rival automakers and brisk business from young families, who like how the vehicle blends elements of sedans and SUVs.


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