DETROIT (AP/CBS Seattle) — 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 for the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic dropped the most, 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.

Now, more discounts are returning because Japanese plants are at full strength again and U.S. dealers restocked. 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 that 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, Chrysler and General Motors have seen much smaller drops, less than $500.

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.

“Although conditions in the global economy continue to deteriorate, consumers who are willing to pull the trigger on a new vehicle will find that there are plenty of deals available,” said Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst for KBB.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press also contributed to this report.)


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