Dealers snatching up used hybrids, four-cylinder vehicles

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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.

[Source: Automotive News – sub. req.]

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