Soaring gasoline prices have led to ferocious competition among auto dealers for used hybrid and four-cylinder compact and subcompact cars. At used-vehicle auctions, dealers like Todd Caputo, owner of Sun Chevrolet and three used-car lots in Syracuse, NY, claim that the race to snatch up fuel-efficient vehicles is "almost like a panic."
Caputo told Automotive News (sub. req.) that a 2008 Chevrolet HHR equipped with a four-cylinder engine went for $11,000 at a recent auction, rather than the expected $8,000 to $8,500. The HHR is, "good on gas, but not fantastic; but it's a small car with a four-cylinder engine" and used-car buyers "are going crazy over them," Caputo said.
Jonathan Banks, senior director of editorial and data services at the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Used Car Guide, says that demand for hybrids and fuel-efficient vehicles is on the rise and, as a result, prices in the subcompact and compact segments will increase by three to four percent in NADA's April guide. That'll be just in time to meet with expected gas prices of $3.70 a gallon, and Banks predicts that prices for pickups and SUVS will fall slightly, while the market for fuel-efficient cars will continue to heat up. We're certainly heard news like this before – the question is, how long does it all last.