Strong May Sales for Toyota and Honda image

Toyota and Honda managed to double production in May in Japan compared to last year, thanks to government subsidies that helped drive demand.

The automakers hit impressive sales in the US in May, taking into consideration the slumping job growth that limited their revival after last year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Toyota’s sales in May increased 87% to 202,973 units and Honda’s sales climbed 48% to 133,997 units. But the automakers missed analysts’ estimates for gains of 93% and 53%, respectively. The US light-vehicle sales hit 13.8 million, different from the analysts’ 14.4 million.

“There’s a fairly consistent story that the U.S. recovery is slogging it out, inching forward but still restrained,” said Paul Ballew, chief economist at Dun & Bradstreet in Short Hills, New Jersey. “That’s what shows up in auto sales, consumer spending and employment growth. While we want the recovery to sprint ahead, it’s just the messiest one in history because of housing, fiscal-policy issues and Europe being on its back.”

GM’s sales in May were up 11% to 245,256 units, Chrysler’s increased 30% to 150,041 units and Nissan hit a 21% climb to 91,794 units. Analysts estimated 15% for GM, 40% for Chrysler and 29% for Nissan.