Honda dealers nationwide are experiencing a shortage of Civics. That's the latest from the automaker, who says sales aren't lagging due to low demand or changing consumer tastes, but rather an overall lack of available inventory on dealership lots.

The Civic, which is beginning its ninth generation following a full redesign for the 2012 model year, reported a year over year sales decline of more than five percent in October. While that would normally be a major red flag for a brand new model, Honda says the new Civic isn't hampered by its design, styling or quality, but simply a shortage of inventory.

According to Honda, the shortage still dates back to the massive earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan earlier this year. While nearly all Civics sold in the U.S. are also manufactured here, the disasters created production delays with crucial parts suppliers, causing Honda to vastly cut output. Worse, the automaker says recent flooding in Thailand will lead to further disruptions in Civic production and may even delay the introduction of the all-new 2012 CR-V.

Of course, Honda isn't the only automaker negatively affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Toyota sales are down nearly 8 percent this year, largely due to production cuts, while the automaker's upscale Lexus brand is off more than 16 percent. That means Lexus will surrender its luxury brand sales title to rival brands BMW and Mercedes for the first time in more than a decade.

For Honda, the depleted Civic inventory means a disappointing start for one of its most popular models - especially since a new car's first year is typically its most successful. Only time will tell if the compact car can recover from such a rocky beginning.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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