Car prices fall as inventories return to normal

DETROIT (AP) — New car prices have dropped $500 on average in the past 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.

Toyota, Honda 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.

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