Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. and American Honda Motor boosted sales in January, but both are still working on restocking dealerships.
The January sales increase -- 9 percent for Honda and 8 percent for Toyota -- was the first month that both posted year-on-year increases since April 2011. But they went in opposite directions in refilling U.S. dealer inventories after the 2011 natural disasters. Honda added stock while Toyota's inventory fell.
Honda added 43,000 units during January, raising its days supply from 37 on Jan. 1 to 54 on Feb. 1, the highest in 11 months. Honda is down 66,000 units, or 26 percent, from Feb. 1 of last year.
Toyota started February with 38 percent fewer vehicles than it had last Feb. 1 -- before the March earthquake in Japan and autumn floods in Thailand. On Feb. 1, 2012, Toyota had 217,900 vehicles, or a 42-day supply. That's 18,000 units fewer than on Jan. 1.
Overall, the industry added 110,300 light vehicles in January, pushing the total to 2.5 million. It is the highest level in 34 months. At January's sales rate, that's a 66-day supply, the lowest Feb. 1 days supply on record. Over the past 20 years, the average supply this time of year is 81 days.
The Detroit 3 started the month with the most stock among the major players -- a combined 86-day supply, up from 75 days a year earlier.
Nissan North America, which recovered earlier from the Japan quake than Toyota and Honda, started the month with a 70-day supply, up from 57 days on Jan. 1.
Hyundai-Kia, which normally runs with lean inventories, had a 31-day supply on Feb. 1, virtually unchanged from a month earlier.