Don't expect Japanese-brand inventory to return to normal until summer, AutoNation Inc. executives say -- but do look for Toyota and Honda to start regaining some of the market share they lost in 2011 after the Japanese earthquake last March crippled production.
Replenished stocks will set up the U.S. market for an intensely competitive sales environment in 2012, AutoNation COO Michael Maroone told Automotive News last week after the country's largest dealership group reported record profits.
The nation's largest auto retailer reported net income of $69.4 million for the fourth quarter, up 3.1 percent. Full-year net income rose 24.2 percent to $281.4 million.
"I don't think there's any question that Toyota and Honda will regain some share," Maroone said. "And I would guess that the domestics that benefited will give up a little bit."