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Ford, Toyota: Two Kinds of Progress


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Toyota (TM - Get Report) announced Tuesday that it has now performed more than 3 million "fixes" for three recent recalls, including those for the sticking accelerator pedals and floor mat-pedal entrapment that so damaged the company's reputation earlier this year.

Toyota said it has performed 1.6 million procedures to address the potential for sticking accelerator pedals, and 1.5 million to address the potential for floor mat pedal entrapment.

Toyota said it has also made 115,000 program updates to the anti-lock brake systems in certain 2010 Prius and Lexus models. The company said that more than 732,000 vehicles have received both the floor mat and sticking pedal modifications, bringing the total number of recalled vehicles that have been serviced to about 2.4 million.

Furthemore, the automaker said it has expanded the number of event data recorder readout devices in North America and the U.S. territories to 150 and is actively training internal and field staff on their use. (The devices record specific vehicle information in the event of air bag deployment or sufficient impact, and are intended to help understand how a vehicle's various systems functioned in a crash, Toyota said.)

Toyota's April sales results came out May 3, and they showed that Toyota's U.S. sales rose 24.4% year-over-year to 157,439 in April, as the company maintained its aggressive customer incentive programs.

Meanwhile, rival Ford (F - Get Report) reported, on the same day, a 25% increase in April sales, the fifth straight month Ford sales have increased more than 20%. The company said that Ford, Lincoln and Mercury April sales rose 25% to 162,996 compared to the prior year.

"In March of 2010, almost every automaker increased its incentives to combat the Toyota recall, however, many automakers lessened the amount of incentives during April and their sales suffered," Wall Strategies analyst David Silver said in a report. "In my opinion, Ford is the only company that really maintained some strong momentum as its F-150 was a big seller," with sales growing about 42% compared to the previous year.

David Silver noted with particular interest the Ford F-150's growing clout, believing that it could be indicative of an improving economy, as contractors and builders "favor the pick-up truck and had been delaying purchases until the economy began to improve."

-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York

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