Tsunami damage

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]