Jim Lentz, Toyota's US sales chief, told the Detroit News yesterday that consumer financing isn't their challenge right now; rather, low consumer confidence is keeping buyers out of showrooms. "The vast majority of our customers are able to get approved for loans," said Lentz, claiming that a record number of consumers are postponing car purchases. Dealers across the country are singing a similar tune, saying that well-qualified buyers can still get financing, but continuing bad economic news is keeping buyers out of showrooms. As the report notes, though, consumer confidence isn't an easy ship to right once it begins to list. Chris Lemley, a Boston Ford, Lincoln Mercury and Mazda dealer, claims that many folks are visiting his showroom just to look around, convinced that they're not able to obtain a loan. "Many of them can," he says. "It's more psychological than anything. Once consumer sentiment turns negative, it's hard to turn it back." So what can dealers and automakers do to loosen consumers' purse strings? Incentives like GM's employee pricing for everyone and, more recently, Toyota's 0% APR financing deals, will likely entice those buyers with good credit and the means to purchase into showrooms. But until consumers feel that they can get a loan — and that they'll continue to have a job with which to pay it back — deferred purchases will continue to create a vicious cycle for dealers and automakers. [Detroit News]