WEST BLOOMFIELD, MI - High gas prices and a recovering economy led to a 46-percent increase in hybrid and clean diesel sales in March compared to the same month of last year. This jump was about three times higher than the increase in the overall car market last month, according to auto analyst firm Baum and Associates.

The change in the vehicle marketplace is now so dramatic that small, highly efficient cars now account for about the same market share at 7 percent as "true SUVs," the firm said.

The used vehicle market, which represents a real-time snapshot of market preference, shows the greatest increase in value for the Toyota Prius and other fuel-efficient cars, with "true SUVs" losing substantial value.

Alan L. Baum, principal of Baum & Associates, said: "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."

For more information, see the full Baum data online at http://baum-assoc.com/Documents/commentary%20on%20vehicle%20sales%20data%20apr11.pdf.  

A chart comparing March 2010 to March 2011 auto sales is online at

"The bottom line is that automakers and consumers will move forward on all fronts based on corporate and consumer needs.  Hybrid and electric vehicles are a part of the solution, as are more efficient powertrains throughout the vehicle fleet,” Baum said.