IRVINE, Calif. — Kelley Blue Book said it anticipates an incentives battle between Japanese and domestic brands in the form of cash and attractive lease offerings later this year. The incentive drive could be beneficial to all brands, as customers also look to get back in the buying game.

"While the earthquake in Japan halted sales recovery earlier this year, the anticipated push by the Japanese to recapture market share will likely help sales later this year," said Alec Gutierrez, manager of vehicle valuation for Kelley Blue Book. "Since May, Japanese brands have given up considerable market share to both domestic and Korean manufacturers."

Prior to the March 11 earthquake, Japanese brands accounted for about 40 percent of all U.S. vehicle sales, but since April they have seen their monthly share of sales decline to nearly 30 percent, according to Kelly Blue Book. As Japanese production facilities return to full capacity, expects to see strong incentive support from these manufacturers as they try to recapture lost market share.

Both Hyundai and Kia sales are strong but with a 19-day supply of vehicles, neither brands have high enough inventory levels to support incentive programs big enough to compete with the Japanese brands. The vehicle information Website also noted that many redesigns will be hitting the U.S. market for the first time, including the 2012 Toyota Camry, Honda CRV and Civic, which also will drive showroom traffic.

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