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The problems facing automakers in the wake of Japan's deadly earthquake and the resulting tsunami are already manifesting themselves in the form of higher transaction prices on some Japanese cars, as U.S. dealers show less willingness to negotiate downward from the number on the window sticker, according to an AP report.

Automakers like Toyota, Honda and Nissan all say they have a sufficient supply of vehicles in the U.S. that had already been imported from Japan before the disaster struck. So, if there are still plenty of Japanese cars on Stateside lots, why the hardening prices?

It's a simple case of supply and demand, explain some dealers polled by The Associated Press. "We're going to run out of cars. We had five [Prius hybrids] on the ground yesterday, and I don't know when I'll get another," says Dave Conant, owner of a Toyota dealership in San Diego, CA. "The market has shifted pretty quickly and dramatically."

Of course, some people believe dealerships are just using speculative vehicle shortages to make a few extra bucks. We suspect the truth may be a little bit of both.

[Source: The Associated Press via ABC News | Image: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty]


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  • 73 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      The domestics could make the claim that their stocks won't be radioactive.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ah... Seeing that picture reminds me that even God hates the Prius. :)
      • 4 Years Ago
      What about the high yen
      • 4 Years Ago
      Look, it is not greedy to make money off of something you sell. Will you gladly pay sticker price on these cars if their value falls in the future because of the falling value of the Yen? If you would, you're a putz, so don't ask the dealers to be putz. If you don't want to pay more for a Japanese car, don't buy one. Everyone on this site must be planning on buying Prii soon based on their outrage.

        • 4 Years Ago
        A month ago Hyundai complained about a price war in the American market, just as they helped escalate the war. GM threw down the rebate gauntlet on moving it's mostly amortized lineup of aging trucks, suv's, fleetcars and lux cars. Ford will never cede truck marketshare at any price. Chrysler just lowered the price on it's minivans and some pickup trucks in order to gain marketshare. VW dropped the Jetta price by $4000 and will do the same on the coming Chattanooga Passat.

        Undoubtably we have a price war going into this earthquake/tsunami/nukular disaster, so this begs the question, "will the rest of the auto industry keep the price war up?" I think they will. Take Japanese cars out of any buying equation in almost any part of the market and there still is intense competition between manufacturers. Think about "Elantra vs Cruze vs Focus vs Jetta vs Forte" or "Sonata vs Fusion vs Malibu vs Optima vs 200 with Pentastar V6 vs Chattanooga Passat" . For a lot of reasons, the Japanese aren't the be all of the car business anymore and that's a good thing for car enthusiasts.

      • 4 Years Ago
      Please tell the dealers that if you sell them all now you can reduce staff and advertising until more come in. This is just a perfect example why people HATE buying cars and think dealers are the lowest form of life on Earth. I deal with body shops everyday and just don't understand why people in the car business are so difficult! They enjoy making you feel bad if it makes them feel better. I have given up buying new cars and try to buy cars that have 5k on them at a much lower price.
      • 4 Years Ago
      There's nothing that Toyota, Honda, or Nissan makes (except maybe a GT-R) which anyone would want badly enough to pay sticker (or over) for. Each one of their products has a compelling alternative which can be found at another brand's dealer near you.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Obviously, people do pay for car from the Japanese Big-3.

        There are compelling alternatives to most cars, but in the end, it is a very specific set of personal priorities that make the final decision.

        My case: I had a Civic coupe years ago... After driving trucks and SUV's for years, and a dumb case of trying to fit in a little hatchback, I wanted another low 2-door. Here were my priorities:

        legs-stretched seating position, not this pseudo-SUV tall-seat Toyota Echo crap that every carmaker wants to pull so that short women can feel commanding and baby boomers can climb out of them.

        Lots of front legroom (I'm only 6'1, but long limbed - 35" inseam)

        Decent fuel economy: largish 4-banger or small V6

        Must have: stick shift!

        Back-seat that is actually inhabitable.

        I like to keep my living expenses low ($65K salary doesn't go a long way) so something in the high teens/low 20s.)

        So, what are my choices:

        Altima Coupe - decent car... was high on my list, but they get expensive when you start adding options.

        Accord coupe - very nice, but you have to pay for a lot of extra crap to get a sunroof.

        Civic SI or EX - nice car, but the seat doesn't go back far enough, and the handbrake jabs my leg.

        Ford Focus Coupe - Hell no; I had a 2010 Focus as a rental, and couldn't WAIT to turn that awful thing back in.

        Kia Forte Koup - I'm sure the Korean cars are very nice these days. If I were leasing, I'd consider it. I'm not going to take on the resale risk if I want to unload the car after a few years just because the Koreans suddenly decided to start building cars instead of fastening together discarded Mazda parts. Spitting image of a Civic; you could slap an H on the grille and few would guess it wasn't one.

        Hyundai Genesis - See Kia Forte... gorgeous car though.

        Ford Mustang base, Mitsubishi Eclipse - back seat non-functional.

        Golf 3-door: I liked it, but I've heard too many horror stories from friends about VW's lately.

        I'd love to have been able to consider a Mazda3 or Mazda6 coupe, but they only make family sedan versions. Same with all the Subarus. Cool cars, but I don't want an B-pillar blocking my view to the sides when I slide the seat back, or forcing my elbow forward. I specifically wanted a 2-door. The Cavalier/Cobalt/Cruze/whatever they're calling it now? Hell no - I bought a new GM pickup back in 2003, traded it in 2006, and swore I'd never buy anything from GM again. I'd sooner buy a Hyundai.

        ---------------
        Ended up with a Scion tC 6MT. It doesn't matter if the body lines were better on the Genesis, if the dashboard felt more svelte on the Civic, if the steering was better on the Mazda3. It had every feature I wanted, and an interior that felt tailored to my frame. If the car doesn't meet your wants and needs, it's not worth buying, no matter how 'compelling' the alternatives may be.

        Perhaps in another 6-7 years, if I'm in the market for a new car, I'll look at a Hyundai/Kia. It's great that they have the long warranty, but it's simply expected that a car will run to 100,000 miles without any major repair work. Promising that it will just brings attention to the fact that there's some doubt. If they offered a program to compensate me for the lost resale vs a Honda or Toyota after 3-5 years should I decide I hate the car, I might consider it, because that is almost a certain value loss.
      • 4 Years Ago
      let's see... when one airline raises prices, all of the others follow suit within a number of days.

      so, if the Japanese manufacturers are raising their prices, doesn't that mean that U.S. automakers Ford, GM, & Chrysler will have to raise their prices?

      oh, wait! Chrysler is owned by the Germans; sorry! there's always Devons or Calloways...
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Milke - Do you not remember the goings on w/Daimsler? Here's a short history:

        1 - Daimler and Chrysler created a 'merger of equals'
        2 - The merger was soon outed as the takeover Daimler wanted
        3 - Daimler let Chrysler languish, with many models falling horribly out of date, and Chrysler sales plummeting. During this time, the quality MB-brand vehicles also fell
        4 - Daimler, at a loss to determine a turnaround course, sells to the venture capitalist Cerberus group. They retained a small share in hopes of making some money off Chrysler's future sale to someone else.
        5 - Due to the finance sectors outrageously stupid greed (coupled with the stupid greed of some consumers), the entire finance sector crashes due to bad loans and speculation on same. Cerberus also lets Chrysler models languish.
        6 - The car market dies, pushing Chrysler and GM off the edge.
        7 - Daimler, desperate now that they have no chance of making money, give up their remaining part.
        8 - The feds step in and bailout Chrysler (and GM), with Chrysler being sold to Fiat, along with the union getting a portion of the company, and the feds retaining a share as well
        9 - Fiat gets more % of Chrysler when they meet certain criteria.


        The only things Daimler has left in Chrysler is a few parts they actually 'shared' back then.
        emil2613
        • 4 Years Ago
        Another screwing of the consumers by the car dealers,,, eventually consumers will strik back and wise up,,,, watch and see,,
        • 4 Years Ago
        Had no idea Fiat was German.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "oh, wait! Chrysler is owned by the Germans..."

        That is so 2007...
        • 4 Years Ago
        Actually, Chrysler was destroyed by the Germans, and are now owned by Italians, government, and a union.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is shocking considering the upstanding ethics that car dealers are known for.
      • 4 Years Ago
      We can be patient! Just wait until Their cars stack up again to buy. Supply will catch up to demand again.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Last time I checked the most popular Japanese car models were made in the US
        • 4 Years Ago
        Last time I checked they were assembled in the US with Japanese and Chinese parts. We'll find out when we see which assembly lines are down.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wanna bet those sleazy Toyota dealers start selling "radiation protection packages". The clueless Toyotabots will lap those up like so much premium paint sealant.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think this may backfire on the US dealers. So many Japanese cars are produced in the US that they may have a difficult time justifying price increases.
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