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updated 4/6/2010 1:44:47 PM ET 2010-04-06T17:44:47

Toyota will continue to offer most of its heavy incentives throughout April after the deals helped lift its sales more than 40 percent last month, the automaker said Tuesday.

Toyota Motor Corp. will continue to offer cheap leases on up to eight of its most popular models, including the Camry, Corolla and RAV4. It is scaling back its zero-percent financing offers to just six vehicles instead of eight, but is expanding a popular two-year free maintenance program to all customers.

The free maintenance program was limited to just return customers in March, but Toyota said it is expanding the program because it was popular among customers.

The promotions run through May 3, Toyota said.

Unlike U.S. automakers, Toyota has typically shied away from heavy incentive programs, due to their cost and potential brand damage over the long term. But Toyota rolled out a series of unprecedented promotions last month as it sought to recover from massive safety-related recalls earlier this year.

The incentives' extension come a day after the Department of Transportation said it will fine Toyota $16.4 million for hiding a product defect and failing to quickly alert regulators to safety problems in some of its vehicles.

Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles around the world and about 6 million in the U.S. because of acceleration problems in several models and braking issues in the Prius hybrid.

The incentives Toyota announced last month helped lift demand after sales fell in February. Last week, the company said U.S. sales in March soared 41 percent, outpacing the broader auto industry and putting it about 1,000 vehicles short of outselling General Motors.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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