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Toyota Buyers Hate Sticky Gas Pedals - But Love a Bargain More

Americans may hate that Toyota (TM) stands accused of ignoring its unintended acceleration problem, but they love a bargain even more.

In response to the ongoing public-relations nightmare over sticky gas pedals, Toyota has announced that it will continue pouring on the discounts. (The company doesn't link the discounts to the scandal, but if you believe they're not related, you also believe in the Easter Bunny.)

Toyota's zero-percent discounts were scheduled to end at the close of business on April 5, but these no-interest loans for up to 60 months will be extended on some models through the end of April.

Cut-rate loans worked like a charm for Toyota in March, as its U.S. sales improved around 41 percent from the year-ago month, despite a drumbeat of criticism from Congress and the media over unintended-acceleration complaints.

The chorus of boos got even louder yesterday. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Toyota purposely delayed reporting complaints that eventually led to the recall this year of about 2.3 million Toyotas.

NHTSA said it intends to impose the maximum fine against Toyota of about $16.4 million.

Toyota can't be enjoying having its name dragged through the mud, or doling out money for zero-percent loans, but as long as U.S. customers keep buying its cars anyway, that takes some of the sting out of the situation.