Sales of hybrid, diesel and small vehicles are rebounding. High gas prices led to a 46% increase in sales of such vehicles in March versus the same month in 2010, says auto analysis firm Baum and Associates.
The firm says small, fuel-efficient cars now account for about the same market share as body-on-frame SUVs, which used to be the toast of the auto market -- before crossovers came and fuel prices started up in 2007.
The firm says first-quarter sales this year were up 13% versus the same quarter last year, while sales of hybrids, clean diesels, and very small cars were up 33.9%, 42.9% and 23.3% for the quarter, respectively. In March alone, per the firm, sales of those vehicles rose 46.4%, 46.1% and 30% respectively.
The firm also says that used fuel-efficient compacts and hybrids like Prius are holding resale value, while traditional SUVs are seeing their value slip.
The firm says that in March sales of subcompacts like Ford Fiesta and Honda Fit grew by 30%, almost twice the 17% rate of the overall market. In addition, car sales grew a third faster than either "car-like" or "true" light trucks.
Crossover sales growth was driven by smaller crossovers, while truck-based traditional SUVs saw market share drop to 7% of the market, which was the same market share as hybrids, clean diesels, and very small cars.
In the used market, the value of a three-year-old Toyota Prius from January to April 2011 bested other vehicles. Three-year-old versions of the Toyota Corolla, Chevy Cobalt, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, and Nissan Versa also saw their value grow.
Said Alan L. Baum, principal, Baum & Associates, in a statement: "The trends are clear: vehicle sales are strong, and consumers want hybrids, small cars and crossovers, and are shying away from pickups and truck-based SUVs even as business fleets continue to support these products in line with an overall economic recovery."