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Fuel-Efficient Cars in High Demand, For Now

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author photo by J. Mark Sternberg July 2011

It's no secret that smaller cars with good fuel economy are in high demand right now. High gas prices and growing environmental concerns have driven prices up on cars that offer good value and low environmental impact.

The used car market is a constant ebb and flow of supply and demand but keeping a sharp eye on trends could give the educated car buyer a little bit of an edge.

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) tracks car sales trends across the industry by looking at trade-in values. The association found that small cars are continuing to demand a high price, but it predicts a dip in used car values soon.

Toyota's Prius is the poster child for fuel efficiency, so as expected, the car topped the list of vehicles experiencing an increase in value. Prius trade-ins demand 30 percent more money than they did in January this year.

The Kia Rio also enjoys a large value spike. The current model Rio can achieve as much as 36 MPG on the highway, and comes with a transferable 10 year, 100,000-mile warranty. The high value Rio saw 20 percent price increase over the last six months.

And, the effect seems to limited to small cars. Of the 20 cars that have seen a price increase of at least 10 percent, the Chrysler PT Cruiser is the largest.

The NADA report found that gas guzzling SUVs and pickups are experiencing an opposite effect. The association said that there is a steep decline in demand for the larger vehicles.

The association did have some predictions for the future of the market. Jonathan Banks, a senior analyst with the NADA Used Car Guide weighed in with his ideas."Looking ahead to the fall, we expect prices on used small cars to drop slightly as consumer demand for new cars increases with the arrival of the 2012 model year, a new round of manufacturer incentives and moderating gasoline prices," Banks said in the NADA press release.

Americans have held off on new car purchases for a while now, and NADA says it expects the trend to start reversing a little. Americans have a lot of money invested in their current cars, and are in a pretty good position to upgrade to something new.

What this means is that if you have a small fuel-efficient car and are thinking about selling it, now might be the perfect time to put out an ad. If the used car market is going to start losing steam as NADA says, it may be best to cash in now.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Fuel-Efficient Cars in High Demand, For Now - Autotrader