Car Prices Quietly Spike As Japanese Model Shortages Grow
Japanese car prices have gone up even more than the average. Honda (HMC) Accords are up $480 since the last week in April, and the prices of the Honda CRV, Toyota (TM) Corolla, and Camry are also much higher. Ironically, these price hikes are coming at a moment when Japanese car companies are bleeding market share. Edmunds reports that since the first week in April, Toyota's retail market share is down 28% and Honda's is down 20%. Meanwhile, GM's (GM) sales have surged 28%.
The danger for U.S. consumers is that American and European manufacturers may also raise prices. Normally, they would be looking for ways to cut them to take sales from the Japanese, but the post-quake inventory problem has made that unnecessary. With Japanese models are unavailable, buyers who might have preferred them will turn to other brands, even without the incentive of better prices.
Still, the May numbers from Edmunds may not be entirely positive for Detroit and Europe. A general price increase on vehicles may cause a buyer's strike in the U.S. as Americans elect to keep their current vehicles for a bit longer, and wait to see if prices drop again.