SANTA MONICA, Calif. (MainStreet) -- Car prices aren't going down and incentives aren't increasing any time soon, so car buyers may as well take any discount they can get.
Japanese automakers Toyota (Stock Quote: TM) and Honda (Stock Quote: HMC) are starting to recover from supply shortages cause by the March tsunami and earthquake, U.S. automakers Ford (Stock Quote: F), GM (Stock Quote: GM) and Chrysler are countering with sought-after updates and models and Korean carmakers Hyundai/Kia continues to stress cost and value. As a result, automobile pricing site TrueCar expects Toyota and Honda to announce sales increases of 0.4% and 15.2% from August. Ford sales are forecast to jump 8.5% from last September, Chrysler's in line for a 20.5% boost and GM is expected to top them at 21.2%.
Hyundai/Kia, meanwhile, may lap the field with a bump of as much as 24.5% as the entire industry sees sales improve by 10.1%.
"New-vehicle sales are doing particularly well, even with worries of a recession and another wild month for the financial markets in September, " said Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends and insights for TrueCar.com. "If the current trends hold, we expect 2011 total new light-vehicle sales to be 12.75 million units -- up 10% from 2010."
That recovery is a nasty turn for the average car buyer, who got 0.9% fewer incentive dollars from auto manufacturers last month. Chrysler and Ford's new-found fortunes made shelling out for incentives a lot less necessary and dropped their incentive spending by 7.3% and 7.7% respectively -- though Chrysler's is still tops among all automakers at an average $3,369 per vehicle. Hyundai/Kia's been doing such a bang-up job moving Sonatas and Sportages off the lot this year that their buyer incentives have shrunk by nearly 19% to a large-manufacturer low of $1,454.
Honda and Toyota, meanwhile, aren't being quite so stingy. Honda's average incentive increased 7.5%, to $2,370, from last September, while Toyota's jumped a whopping 16.5%, to $2,472, during that time.
"Now that Honda and Toyota have increased levels of inventory, they are spending money at record levels to move cars," said Kristen Andersson, automotive analyst at TrueCar.com.
Those soaring sales and sporadic incentives make the 2011 models lingering on dealer lots the last refuge for a frugal consumer. There's still a stockpile of leftover luxury cars, spurned SUVs and misfit minivans sitting at dealerships across the country that made TrueCar's list of 2011 vehicles that have grown more affordable in their advanced age: