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Car buyers in for a 'bumpy ride' this summer

Prices for certain cars are set to rise next month, according to the latest analysis of the Japanese earthquake from a prominent US auto publication.

California-based Edmunds.com said April 13 that the shortage of cars caused by the Japanese earthquake, which has stopped or slowed production in plants around the world, will begin to show in the inventories of dealers from next month.

"Inventory will start to be noticeably limited next month and automakers will react by adjusting incentives on the models in short supply," said the firm in a statement.

It's likely that the shortage will be particularly noticeable with Japanese-made vehicles, with reports suggesting that dealer incentives on vehicles such as the Toyota RAV4 and Highlander have already been cut.

Consumers looking to mitigate the impact by buying used vehicles may also be in for a shock, as prices for second-hand cars tend to follow those for new vehicles.

"There may be some good deals available to car buyers this summer but they might not necessarily be available on their first or second choice of vehicles," said the firm's Jeremy Anwyl.

"It looks like it’s going to be a bumpy ride on dealer lots through the next few months."

Instead, Edmunds.com advised consumers to either buy now, before the number of cars available for purchase begins to dwindle, or hold off purchasing until the fall when new models are set to become available.

Later this year manufacturers could up production on next year's models, said the analysis, leading to good deals for consumers as brands fight for market share.

The devastating effect of the Japanese earthquake has prompted a parts shortage, bringing production of some Japanese brands to a virtual standstill and slowing auto production for many other brands around the world.

This week, Toyota said that it would stop production in five of its European plants for several days throughout April and May because of a shortage of supplies from Japan.