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Car buyers paid more in May

June 2, 2011 | 12:01 pm

Consumers proved to be the biggest losers in the U.S. auto market last month, according to auto information company They paid more and had fewer choices, Edmunds said.

On average, a vehicle buyer in May paid about $180 more than in April, about $310 more than in February, and $410 more than May 2010. Overall incentives were at the lowest levels last month since
October 2005, and incentives fell for compact (-23%) and subcompact (-14%) cars more than the average incentives for any other segment between April and May, according to Edmunds.

South Korean automakers proved to be the biggest winners in Edmunds' analysis of the monthly sales data released by the industry this week. Elantra

The combined sales for sister companies Hyundai and Kia topped Honda and placed them fifth on the U.S. sales list behind fourth-place Toyota. Hyundai has broken its monthly sales record five months straight. Kia has posted a 44.8% sales increase year to date, Edmunds said.

The auto information company also picked up a counterintuitive trend.  Sales of fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles might be losing ground as automakers steadily increase the fuel economy of conventional gasoline engine vehicles.

The May numbers weren’t clear because the Japanese earthquake and tsunami cut Toyota’s Prius production and the Prius is the best-selling hybrid in America. However, hybrids made up only 1.68% of new car sales in May, the segment’s lowest market share since January 2007.

“The emergence of more fuel-efficient nonhybrids are posing a real challenge to the hybrid market,” Edmunds said.


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May auto sales suffer as consumers hesitate

-- Jerry Hirsch

Photo: Hyundai Elantra. Credit: Hyundai Motor America