Four major public dealership groups expect automakers to boost leasing offers and vehicle inventories this year.
But the dealership executives say automakers are likely to remain disciplined in both areas. That means no big cash incentives on the leases, and no flood of vehicles that requires big discounts to sell.
"Manufacturers are much more rational now," AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson said in an interview. "I don't expect inventories to be out of line."
Jackson said he expects mainstream import brands to increase lease offers more than domestic brands.
"The normal leasing rates for retail are somewhere around 20 percent and I don't expect to see a significant incentive program that will distort that number," Jackson said .
He said that past lease-penetration levels of 30 to 35 percent were "inappropriate and unsustainable."
"I don't see that happening again," Jackson said .
AutoNation, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is the nation's largest dealership group. It posted retail sales of 222,679 new vehicles in 2011, up 7 percent from 207,180 vehicles in 2010.