Toyota was too optimistic in predicting when dealers would get their earthquake-ravaged inventories back to appropriate levels, says Carl Swope, chairman of Toyota's National Dealer Advisory Council.
Swope said Toyota's various estimates for inventory recovery were off by about six weeks.
But after a tight second half, he said, things are starting to look closer to normal.
He said Toyota executives were "extremely optimistic through the fourth quarter. With the launch of the Camry, in my situation, things looked extremely short while [Toyota's California headquarters in] Torrance was comfortable with how things were recovering."
As suppliers came back on line in the second half of 2011, Toyota regularly posted press releases detailing return to normal production levels at its global manufacturing sites.
But though plants were brought back to capacity, Toyota miscalculated how long it would take for dealers to get sufficient allocations, said Swope, who also holds Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Nissan, Hyundai and Mitsubishi franchises in Elizabethtown, Ky.
According to the Automotive News Data Center, Toyota dealers had a 38-day supply of vehicles on Jan. 1, down from 45 days on Dec. 1 and up slightly from 35 days on Sept. 1. Most brands prefer inventories to be about 60 days' supply.