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Japanese automakers face loss of sales as Hyundai and GM gain speed

KBB reports the effects of the tsunami and earthquake are still felt in the auto industry.

By Elaine MurphyPublished: October 06, 2011 01:07 PM

Kelley Blue Book (KBB), an Irvine-based company that provides new and used car information, reports Japanese automakers are struggling to recover from an inventory shortage brought on by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. In the October 2011 edition of its Blue Book Market Report, KBB says the Japanese auto industry’s lack of sufficient supply is driving buyers toward American and Korean automakers, whose shares have increased.

American, European and Korean automakers have all reported an increase in sales since 2010. GM sold 130,000 more cars and increased its sales by $3 billion, while Fountain Valley-based Hyundai sold 120,000 more vehicles to gain $2.5 billion, even as the Korean company faces its own inventory shortage.

Japanese market shares dropped from 38.6 percent to 34.8 percent since 2010, comparable to a loss of 300,000 potential sales. The stock of compact and mid-size cars has been affected the most, as these cars are in the highest demand. Toyota and Honda experienced the widest gap in revenue shortfall, respectively losing $5 billion and $3.2 billion in sales, according to KBB.

However, the analysis company says the Japanese auto industry is showing signs of recovery. Total inventory increased by 15,000 vehicles from August to September, and 2012 redesigns of popular Japanese cars like the Honda Civic and Toyota Camry are expected to arrive in the U.S. in a few months.

“The Japanese may be down, but they are certainly not out,” said Alec Gutierrez, vehicle valuation manager for KBB. “With several redesigns hitting our shores this year, it may only be a matter of time before the Japanese begin to recapture some of their lost share."

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