High-flying Hyundai-Kia Automotive will outsell Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. and American Honda Motor Co. in May, according to industry analyst TrueCar.com.
TrueCar expects Hyundai-Kia to sell 115,434 units in May, which would be a 43.4 percent increase from May 2010. That would give the Korean group a 10.9 percent market share and make it No. 3 behind Ford Motor Co. and General Motors, according to TrueCar.
TrueCar analyst Jesse Toprak said Hyundai-Kia's momentum and Honda's and Toyota's slow May sales -- dragged down by earthquake-related inventory shortages and low incentives -- contributed to the Koreans' expected No. 3 ranking.
"There have been some real and perceived shortages of Japanese vehicles, and the message to consumers when they look around in the media is 'you might as well not buy something,'" Toprak said. "But the truth is that if Hyundai-Kia didn't have the right type of products at the right time, they wouldn't have been able to capitalize on this opportunity."
TrueCar expects Honda/Acura sales in May to drop 20.7 percent from May 2010 to 92,889 units. Toyota/Lexus/Scion sales are expected to plunge 32.8 percent to 109,416 units.
May's annual selling rate is expected to hit 11.9 million units, up from 11.6 million in May 2010 but down from a 13.2 million rate in April 2011.
Toprak expects inventories for Japanese automakers to continue to be tight in June, especially for fuel-efficient models built only in Japan.
"June is going to be another month of tight inventories, but based on [faster production ramp-ups] that have been announced, starting in late June we should see some of these inventories start to be replenished," Toprak said. "But they won't come back to normal levels until much later in the year."
Higher transaction prices caused by tight stocks also are pushing consumers to wait on the sidelines, Toprak said.
He said: "That whole mechanism of the market going back to normal levels will take months, probably by the fourth quarter, provided that all the production resumption announcements are accurate."