Despite an expected loss of share that boosted the Detroit 3 and Koreans in May, analysts at Edmunds.com believe that the worst may be over for the Japanese OEMs recovering from the post-'quake supply-chain disruption of recent months. 

“Manufacturing disruptions appear to have peaked in April and May, and recent news points to steady improvements moving forward,” said Lacey Plache, chief economist at Edmunds.com.

“Toyota said it expects North American production of its top-selling Camry and Corolla models to be back at 100 % next month, and Nissan’s key engine plant in Japan is returning to full production next week – ahead of schedule next week.

“Even Honda, which was the hardest hit of the big three Japanese automakers, is making optimistic statements about its recovery. If the industry continues to recover from the tsunami-driven disruptions at a strong pace, we are optimistic that its impact on 2011 auto sales will be limited.”

Edmunds also said that it forecasts this month's US new car sales (including fleet sales) at approximately 1,098,000 units, a 0.4 % decrease from May 2010 and a 5.1 % decrease from April 2011. Retail sales are expected to be approximately 865,000 units, down from approximately 915,000 last month.

Edmunds.com analysts predict that May's Seasonally Adjusted Annualised Rate (SAAR) will be 12.2m, down from 13.2 million in April 2011. SAAR for retail sales decreased from last month to about 9.7m.

Average automaker incentives in the US are estimated by Edmunds at US$2,002 per vehicle sold in May 2011, down US$107, or 5.1 %, from April 2011, and down US$695, or 25.8 %, from May 2010.

Edmunds also said that May was a good month for South Korean automakers in the US market. Hyundai and Kia combined to total more than 109,000 sales in May for a combined market share of 9.9 %. That would rank the Hyundai/Kia combo No. 5 in sales behind GM, Ford, Toyota and Chrysler, and ahead of Honda.

“Hyundai and Kia are taking advantage of Toyota and Honda being somewhat down and out,” said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at Edmunds.com. “But Hyundai’s average days to turn is getting leaner, which could be a challenge for them in the immediate future if they want to continue their impressive sales momentum.”

Honda had a particularly weak sales performance this month, thanks to leaner supply and rising prices on its popular Civic and Accord models. Edmunds.com predicts Honda will sell 83,300 units, making it the company’s worst May since 1997. Honda’s sales were down 28.9 % from May 2010 and down 33.3 % from April 2011, Edmunds said.

Edmunds.com predicts Toyota will sell 125,500 units in May 2011, down 22.9 % from May 2010 and down 21.3 % from April 2011. Toyota's market share is expected to be 11.4 % in May 2011, down from 14.8 % in May 2010 and down from 13.8 % in April 2011.

Edmunds.com predicts Nissan will sell 82,800 units in May 2011, down 1.1 % from May 2010 but up 15.8 % from April 2011. Nissan's market share is expected to be 7.5 % in May 2011, down from 7.6 % in May 2010 but up from 6.2 % in April 2011.

And Edmunds also forecasts that the US domestics will have significantly upped share in May. The combined monthly US market share for Chrysler, Ford and General Motors (GM) domestic nameplates is estimated at 49.2 % in May 2011, up from 47.6 % in May 2010 and up from 46.6 % in April 2011.

Edmunds.com predicts Chrysler will sell 115,900 units in May 2011, up 10.6 % compared to May 2010 but down 1.1 % from April 2011. This would result in a new car market share of 10.6 % for Chrysler in May 2011, up from 9.5 % in May 2010 and up from 10.1 % as in April 2011.

Edmunds.com predicts Ford will sell 196,700 units in May 2011, down 0.1 % compared to May 2010 but up 3.6 % from April 2011. This would result in a new car market share of 17.9 % of new car sales in May 2011 for Ford, flat from 17.9 % in May 2010 but up from 16.4 % in April 2011.

Edmunds.com predicts GM will sell 227,900 units in May 2011, up 2.0 % compared to May 2010 but down 2.0 % from April 2011. GM's market share is expected to be 20.8 % of new vehicle sales in May 2011, up from 20.3 % in May 2010 and up from 20.1 % in April 2011.

See also: US: Vehicle market seen down in May