Hybrid, clean diesel car sales outpace auto market

March 2011 saw a 46 percent increase in hybrid and clean diesel car sales from the same month a year prior, outpacing the overall auto market, according to Baum and Associates.

Hybrid, diesel and electric car sales may still be a small part of the overall picture, but if growth is any indicator, green vehicles are heating up.

March 2011 revealed a 46 percent increase in hybrid and clean diesel car sales from the same month a year prior, an increase that outpaced the overall auto market (17 percent growth) three times over.

According to auto analyst firm Baum and Associates, the reason was simple: high gas prices paired to a recovery economy.

Small, efficient vehicles are now 7 percent of the overall market, about the same share as "real" sport utility vehicles -- that is, those built on a truck platform, not a car's.

Very small cars, such as the Ford Fiesta and Honda Fit, grew at almost twice the rate of the overall market: 30 percent compared to 17 percent.

The effect has rippled into the used car market, too. Baum notes that the greatest increase in value occurred for fuel-efficient vehicles such as the Toyota Prius, Toyota Corolla, Chevy Cobalt, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, and Nissan Versa. (The biggest losers: gas guzzlers like the Ford Explorer.)

"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," principal Alan Baum said in a statement.

You can read his complete analysis here (.pdf).

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com