Analysts predicting big year-end incentives blitz to salvage yearly numbers

As Japanese automakers see their production levels return to normal, U.S. dealers should finally be able to bolster their inventories after months of slim pickings. According to Automotive News, the companies may use the situation to attempt to improve total year sales with massive incentive and advertising spending. The report says that currently, some showrooms are only at half of their pre-disaster inventory levels – this, despite the fact that the number of available vehicles has increased over the past month. The quake and tsunami disaster has resulted in a shift in market share, with Japanese makes losing 6.7 percentage points from their pre-quake height of 38.8 percent. Automotive News reports that Toyota saw its market share plummet by 2.6 percent to 11.6 percent.

The introduction of the seventh-generation Camry may help that company's cause, and rivals Honda and Nissan may attempt to launch a price war to keep buyers in the family. That may mean larger incentives than buyers have seen from either automaker in the recent past. Additionally, the report says that manufacturers are cranking up the ad budget to match production. The rush of cash is expected to take hold in the fourth quarter, which means automakers must make it through Q3, first.

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