DALLAS – In the days after an earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan in March, severely damaging many of the country’s auto factories, import dealers feared a long, hot summer of empty lots.

Things never got quite that bad, but now, in peak selling season, inventories at many area Japanese-brand dealerships remain at half or less of normal levels.

Vehicles such as the Toyota Prius hybrid, 4Runner SUV and the new Honda Civic can be as hard to find as Ferraris.

Honda and Toyota recently told their dealers that full production at all factories should resume in September, at least two months ahead of original repair schedules.

“That’s some great news,” said Pat Lobb, who owns Pat Lobb Toyota and Scion in McKinney, Texas, and is a representative on Toyota’s regional dealer council. “I’ve got 300 vehicles in the (order) pipeline, which is the most I’ve been able to get since March or April.”

Analysts estimate that Japanese automakers — including Toyota, Lexus, Honda, Nissan and Infiniti — have lost at least 200,000 sales in the U.S. since March, worth about $6 billion.

Some have even lowered their estimates of total U.S. sales this year to reflect those losses, concluding that the manufacturers won’t recoup the losses.

Nonetheless, many of the manufacturers plan aggressive sales campaigns this fall in an attempt to reclaim lost business, and significant incentives are likely to be part of their efforts, analysts say.

“The biggest worry among Japanese automakers is: Will they be able to get that share back?” said Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends at TrueCar.com. “Consumers have a lot more choices now, and brand loyalty industrywide is not as strong as it once was.”

For at least the next two months, supplies of Japanese-brand vehicles are likely to be tight and prices high.

In addition, used-car prices — many at all-time highs — will also stay inflated, partly because of the disaster in Japan.

After three straight years of weak new-vehicle sales, the used-car market needs more trade-ins. The loss of 200,000 more new-vehicle sales with their potential trades will put even more pressure on the segment, analysts say.

“There simply are not enough used cars coming through the system as trades,” Toprak said.

Still, most dealers say, the situation could be a lot worse. Limited supplies of new vehicles have kept prices firm and profit high, and many Japanese-brand dealers have relied on lucrative used-car sales and service work to compensate for the drop in new-vehicle sales.

Even if production resumes in September, dealers may not get full allocations of all vehicles until November. But dealers say they expect Honda and Toyota to begin aggressively pursuing lost sales this fall with deals and incentives.

Lobb, one of the largest Toyota dealers in the Southwest, has an inventory of about 250 vehicles but wants 1,000 on his lot this fall — in time for any sales push.

“The manufacturers will drive market share like you have never seen before,” predicted Lobb, an auto industry veteran.

At Freeman Toyota in Hurst, Texas, general manager Dane Minor says he can now plan his business better knowing shipments of new vehicles will be arriving in the next few weeks.

“We’ve got a 20-day supply of cars on the ground, and a 45-day supply is optimal,” Minor said. “It’s tight. When cars come off the truck, a lot of times they’re already spoken for.”