Toyota companies in the US and Japan have announced a $US5,000,000 donation to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, which hit the Gulf Coast on August 29.

Toyota companies have long supported the American Red Cross through associate-giving programmes and disaster-related contributions and its offer of financial help is just one of many pledges made by automotive companies operating in the US this week.

$2 million of the $3 million directed to the American Red Cross was pledged by Toyota Motor Corporation of Japan, California-based Toyota Motor Sales USA and Toyota Financial Services; New York-based Toyota Motor North America; and Kentucky-based Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America.

Texas-based Friedkin Companies, the owner of Gulf States Toyota, a privately owned distributorship, contributed another $2 million to establish the Friedkin Disaster Relief Fund. This fund will aid the automaker’s and dealerships’ employees and their families in the Gulf Sates region.

Southeast Toyota Distributors, another privately owned distributorship, its parent company JM Family Enterprises, and its associates pledged another $1,000,000 to the American Red Cross.

Toyota and Lexus financial services customers are offering a 90-day extension on payments, suspending credit bureau reporting on accounts impacted by the storm and temporarily suspending collection efforts on affected accounts.

As the full effects of the disaster have become known, Ford Credit on Friday extended a two-month payment ‘holiday’, announced earlier this week for affected customers, to three months.

Employee contributions to the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and Friedkin Disaster Relief Fund will be fully matched by various Toyota companies in the US.

Chrysler Group’s philanthropic arm, the DaimlerChrysler Corporation Fund, along with DaimlerChrysler Services, Mercedes-Benz USA, and Freightliner, has announced a joint commitment of $1.1 million. The funds will be used to provide emergency shelter, food, water, supplies and other critical assistance in the areas affected by America’s worst natural disaster in more than 100 years.

General Motors has announced that the GM Foundation and GMAC have made
a combined immediate cash donation of $400,000 to the American Red Cross
Hurricane 2005 Relief Fund.

The GM Foundation has pledged up to an additional $250,000 in matching funds for contributions made to the Hurricane 2005 Relief Fund by GM and GMAC employees through the company’s Global Aid Disaster Relief website.

Dana Corporation has contributed $50,000 to the American Red Cross Hurricane 2005 Relief Fund and will make a second contribution to the American Red Cross by matching employee and retiree donations made until November 30, 2005 to registered charitable organisations that support the hurricane relief efforts.

The Denso North America Foundation is donating $25,000 to the American Red Cross to aid in the recovery and rebuilding efforts.

This is by no means the full list but it gives some idea of how automotive companies in the States are helping out.

Industry pundits suggest the industry could get a boost from demand for replacement vehicles for those wrecked by the hurricane but in the short term the damage toll is high – one report this week said every DaimlerChrysler group dealership in the New Orleans area had been wrecked.

TV pictures showed one such dealership inundated by about four metres of heavily polluted water.