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It’s almost a perfect storm. The aftermath of the deadly earthquake in Japan, combined with a dramatic increase in oil prices fueled by the ongoing crisis in Libya and the reduction in domestic stockpiles is pushing up the price of new automobiles in a manner not seen in years.
Already Toyota, Ford and GM have announced price increases for their vehicles, with others set to follow suit. But an interesting trend is the price of small cars. Compared with a year ago, the average price for these vehicles has increased by some 4.2 percent, in the subcompact segment it’s even more – 6.3 percent – according to website TrueCar.com.
Although, given the global nature of the auto business today, companies across the world are facing disruptions, those that are most affected remain Japanese brands. So far, Nippon based companies have delayed the introduction of some 500,000 vehicles because of supply issues resulting from last month’s quake and one industry analyst predicts that amount will grow to some 3.6 million vehicles worldwide by August.
However, this current set of circumstances might provide an opportunity, particularly for Detroit car makers, who’ve been struggling in recent years. In particular, demand for such models as the Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Cruze, both of which have been well received, could result in some buyers shifting their allegiance from Japanese brands, which have dominated the market for small cars for so long. The situation is likely to exacerbated by the fact that some models, particularly those imported from Japan such as the Toyota Prius, are currently in short supply, a scenario that isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
Nevertheless, although many automakers are rethinking their supply chains as a result of the issues in Japan, it’s unlikely there will be a major realignment in the way parts distribution and production are configured, at least in the short term.
However, given the current economic environment, the auto sector is becoming less of a buyer’s market by the day, particularly for small cars. As a result those consumers in the market for a new vehicle, are likely better off to take the plunge now, while there’s still good deals to be had, rather than sitting on the fence and waiting.
[Source: Detroit Free Press]