FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The head of the nation's largest dealership group says lean inventories will delay the recovery of Toyota and Honda until mid-2012.
"We're going to be firmer on price on Toyota and Honda than what we thought at the beginning of October," AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson told Automotive News last week. "We just don't have the supply to be able to run a lot of volume."
Spokesmen for Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. called that analysis too dire and said their companies are moving quickly to recover from severe flooding in Thailand that has disrupted supply lines.
Jackson said the Thai floods, combined with a return of shoppers to Japanese-brand dealerships, will keep inventories low at Honda and Toyota stores until mid-2012. "It pushes the recovery out to the end of the first half of next year, until we have reasonable supplies with the Japanese again," he said.
Jackson said Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. and American Honda -- which account for 25 percent of U.S. sales -- will be low on stock for different reasons.
Toyota will be short on product as consumers continue to return to showrooms. And Honda's recent production cuts mean December's output will be pushed into next year.
For both companies, that means there's little reason to offer incentives. One source expects only modest, targeted incentives on the models in greatest supply.
Honda, which has been forced to get more parts from both alternative sources and original suppliers, said its plants in North America are exceeding production plans announced earlier this month.
Last week Honda said six plants in the United States and Canada are running at 50 to 75 percent of planned output, exceeding the 50 percent rate the automaker expected as of Oct. 31.
"We expect our production in the U.S. and Canada to be back to normal levels before the end of this year," said Honda spokesman Ed Miller.
"We're having a parts problem, but we are re-sourcing outside of Thailand. To say that the situation is going to extend well into next year does not recognize the fact that we source our cars for U.S. dealers domestically to a very great degree."
Toyota and Honda were the only major automakers with lower year-over-year October sales. Overall, light-vehicle sales rose 8 percent, while sales at Honda fell 1 percent and Toyota was off 8 percent.
Toyota and Honda recently abandoned full-year profit forecasts after the Thai floods hampered efforts to recover from the March earthquake in Japan.