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Kelley Blue Book: New car prices have dropped from a year ago

June 27, 2012|By Jerry Hirsch
  • The transaction prices of many cars, including the Toyota Prius, have declined as automakers have built back inventories hurt by the Japanese earthquake last year.
The transaction prices of many cars, including the Toyota Prius, have declined… (Toyota Motor Corp. )

New car prices have fallen from a year ago, primarily because the inventory shortage created by the Japanese earthquake has been entirely erased.

On average, consumers are paying $500 less for a new vehicle today compared with just one year ago, according to Kelley Blue Book, the auto price information company that operates KBB.com.

Kelley said the biggest year-over-year price declines are for vehicles offered by Japanese brands such as the Toyota Prius. Manufacturing of the Prius hybrid, which is built in Japan, was severely distrupted by the earthquake. Inventories in the U.S. fell to less than seven days' worth, and prices spiked. Now, however, the average transaction price for the Prius is about $2,500 less than a year ago.

 “The average Honda model is selling for nearly $1,200 less than this time last year, and a Subaru, Mazda or Toyota is approximately $700 to $800 more affordable,” said Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst of automotive insights for Kelley Blue Book.  “Compare this to the average year-over-year declines of less than $500 for Ford, Chrysler and General Motors.”

The lower prices have allowed the Japanese brands to regain a portion of their lost market share in the U.S., Gutierrez said.

Some of the notable declines in one measure, the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price for new cars, include the Honda Accord and Nissan Sentra, which are both down nearly $1,500.

 “The Honda Accord and Nissan Sentra can attribute their price decline to improved inventory levels, falling fuel prices and the expectation of a redesign for each model later this year,” said Gutierrez.  “Although conditions in the global economy continue to deteriorate, consumers who are willing to pull the trigger on a new vehicle will find that there are plenty of deals available.” 

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