While Toyota made big strides last month in restocking its U.S. dealerships, Honda's inventory once again declined.
With more vehicles to sell, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.'s sales rose 7 percent, ending a six-month losing streak. American Honda's sales swoon continued for a seventh straight month.
Since May, two months after the earthquake in Japan emptied their U.S. showrooms, Toyota and Honda had been near-twins: little to sell and plunging sales.
Then a new challenge, the floods in Thailand that slashed parts production, left Honda as the lone major automaker short on inventory.
After bottoming out at 85,300 units on Aug. 1, American Honda had added 54,000 units by Nov. 1. But in November, inventory fell 300 units, while Honda sales dropped 6 percent. Its inventory on Dec. 1 stood at 139,300, 46 percent lower than on March 1, just before the earthquake.
But Toyota, which had raised inventories by 31,000 units in September and October combined, added 36,300 units in November despite a higher sales rate. It started December with 236,400 units in stock, a 43-day supply.
Overall, U.S. inventory rose by 190,000 units, to 2.4 million light vehicles in November.
That is a 61-day supply, up from 57 days on Nov. 1.
About 60 days is normally an ideal level, but inventory tends to run high in late fall.
It is the second-lowest Dec. 1 supply in two decade of records, exceeded only by a 56-day supply in 2001.