For now, at least, car sales seem to be on an upward trajectory in the States, and according to AutoTrader, Chevrolet and Hyundai seem likely to be beneficiaries of the newfound consumer interest. In March, the most viewed new car on AutoTrader remained the Chevrolet Camaro, outpacing the Ford F150 and Mustang. Now that Ford is releasing all new powertrains for the 2011 Mustangs it will be interesting to see if the Camaro can retain its momentum.

Speaking of momentum, Hyundai continues to pick up velocity with its new Sonata. While the Sonata was only ranked 10th overall, it was #1 among mid-sized sedans for the first time ever, beating the standard-bearing Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Ford Fusion. The Sonata jumped from 22nd place in March 2009, while the Accord dropped from seventh to 12th. Another big winner was the new Chevy Equinox, with a 186 percent increase in pageviews, taking it from 12th to eighth place overall.

[Source: AutoTrader]
Show full PR text
Chevrolet Camaro and Hyundai Sonata Show That Exciting Designs Fuel New Car Interest
Shoppers Returning to New and Used Car Market Drive All-Time Traffic Record of 16.5 Million Unique Monthly Visitors to AutoTrader.com in March


ATLANTA, April 7 /PRNewswire/ -- During the month of March, the Chevrolet Camaro once again became the most-viewed new vehicle on AutoTrader.com. Meanwhile, Hyundai's new Sonata midsize sedan was the most-viewed new vehicle in its class for the first time ever, surpassing competitors that include Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima.

Other big gains in new vehicles came from a pair of compact crossovers. The new Chevrolet Equinox was up 186% in views year-over-year, making it the most-viewed new vehicle in its class and the 8th most-viewed new vehicle overall. The new Kia Sorento, a direct competitor of the Equinox, saw views increase 268% year-over-year, making it the 2nd most-viewed compact crossover, and 20th overall among all vehicles.

"As the Camaro, Equinox, Sorento and Sonata all prove, hot new designs still are capable of drawing shopper attention on-line and in showrooms," said AutoTrader.com President and CEO Chip Perry. "With most major automakers planning lots of new product to roll out during the course of 2010, consumers will have a lot to be excited about at their local dealership this year."

Average asking prices for new vehicles continued to creep up, a sign of better management of production in relation to demand than what was seen in 2009. These increases, though, were offset by manufacturer incentives which helped drive shoppers to dealers, resulting in the best month for new vehicle sales so far in 2010.

Economic Recovery Continues to Fuel Demand for Full-size Trucks

Used full-size trucks continued to see increased activity on AutoTrader.com last month. These increases were led by the used Dodge Ram 2500 and the used Ford F-250, which both saw views rise about 20% from March of 2009. The used Chevrolet Silverado 2500 also gained big, up 18% compared to March of last year.

"This improvement we have seen in views for work trucks is a good harbinger of improvements to the economy at large," said Perry. "These vehicles' popularity is a direct reflection of rebounding activity in the business and industrial segments, which in turn points towards increased spending among general consumers. We expect this trend to soon be reflected in increased activity not just for work trucks, but also popular family vehicles such as midsize sedans and crossovers."

While searches for Certified Pre-Owned vehicles were down slightly year-over-year, much of this is still the result of depleted inventories in the sector. The reduced inventory of CPO vehicles continued to push average asking prices higher, especially among trucks, SUVs and crossovers both foreign and domestic. For example, the average asking price for a Certified GMC Sierra 1500 pick-up rose 15% to $24,541, while the average asking price for a Honda Pilot crossover rose 14% to $24,668.

"Manufacturers and dealers spent a lot of time and money explaining to consumers the benefits of CPO vehicles," said Perry. "And just as consumers were responding, leasing, a key supply avenue for CPO vehicles, dried up with the credit crunch. With leasing beginning to see new signs of life, the supply of CPO vehicles should improve over time and many consumers will again give this segment a look."

Record Traffic

In March, AutoTrader.com logged 16.5 million unique monthly visitors, the highest traffic the company had ever experienced, beating the previous record from March 2009 by almost a half-million unique visitors. Heavy marketing of autos and auto incentives coupled with the recovering economy helped raise consumer interest in making a new or used vehicle purchase, driving them on-line to research and compare models in their efforts to find the perfect car at the right price. AutoTrader.com's own extensive marketing efforts, including strong presence on networks including MTV, VH1 and Lifetime and displays at the United States' largest auto shows over the past few months helped lead those shoppers to AutoTrader.com in record numbers.

Future Trends

"With the U.S. auto show season coming to a close with the New York International Auto Show this month and manufacturers getting ready to put into showrooms a variety of new vehicles, it will be interesting to see what cars become popular on our site and in sales over the next eight to 10 months," said Perry.

A major trend this auto show season has been small, stylish and fuel-efficient cars like the new Ford Fiesta, the new Mazda 2, the new Chevy Cruze and the new Fiat-Chrysler 500. These cars are aimed squarely at the segment of consumers who say they want cars that are fuel efficient, great to look at and fun to drive, three things that have not normally gone together on U.S. roads.

"As a result of gas prices starting to creep up a bit and people more than ever aware of the environment, we will be keeping an eye on how these new small cars fare in the market when they do become available in dealer showrooms," said Perry.

About AutoTrader.com

AutoTrader.com, created in 1997 and headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., is the Internet's leading auto classifieds marketplace and consumer information website. AutoTrader.com aggregates in a single location millions of new cars, used cars and certified pre-owned cars from thousands of auto dealers and private owners. The site attracts about 15 million unique monthly visitors. Through innovative merchandising functionality such as multiple photos, videos, detailed descriptions and comprehensive research and compare tools, AutoTrader.com unites new and used car buyers and sellers online to improving the way people research, locate and advertise vehicles. AutoTrader.com is a majority-owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises. The venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is also an investor. For more information, please visit www.autotrader.com.