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Published: Thursday, 6/28/2012

Prices fall for most new cars


DETROIT -- New car prices have dropped $500 on average in the last year, mainly because Japanese automakers have restocked dealers after shortages in 2011, according to the Kelley Blue Book auto pricing service.

Prices have dropped the most for the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic, while prices of Detroit models haven't fallen quite as much, KBB said Wednesday.

The average price paid for a Prius gas-electric hybrid is down $2,500 from last June. The Civic is down $1,550, according to KBB.

Toyota Motor Co., Honda Motor Co., and smaller Japanese companies ran short of cars after an earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in March of 2011, knocking out power and hampering production of parts and cars. With few cars to sell last summer, Toyota and Honda dealers had little reason to offer discounts.

But with Japanese plants at full strength again and U.S. dealers restocked, discounts are back. Those deals, along with aging cars and easier access to auto loans, could keep buyers coming to dealerships this summer, despite anxiety about the jobs market and incomes.

KBB said the average price paid for a Honda is almost $1,200 less than it was a year ago. Subaru, Mazda, and Toyota models are down $700 to $800. Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group LLC., and General Motors Co. have seen much smaller drops, less than $500.

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