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Consumer Interest in Trucks Sign of Mending Economy, AutoTrader Reports

January 26, 2012

ATLANTA – Significant interest in full-size trucks is a positive indication that the economy is on the mend, according to AutoTrader’s New Car Insights Report for January.

In addition to searches for several popular models increasing year over year, AutoTrader.com analysts pointed to the significant share of interest increase for the overall segment, as well as year-over-year price increases for many trucks as evidence of rebounding interest in full-size trucks. Interest in compact cars, however, was down significantly during the same timeframe.

“Full-size trucks are closely associated with many work-related endeavors, leading us to believe that the strong renewed interest in these vehicles is a leading indicator that green blades of grass are beginning to shoot through the snow in this segment,” said Rick Wainschel, vice president of automotive insights at AutoTrader.com. “Toward the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012, there were numerous other positive economic indicators, from higher consumer confidence numbers, a decrease in unemployment and increases in construction-related metrics.”

Overall, full-size trucks accounted for nine of the Top 20 most viewed vehicles on AutoTrader.com in December. The Ford F-150, which has long been the most-viewed vehicle on the site, again claimed the No. 1 spot. Also appearing in the Top 20 were the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 at No. 3, the Dodge Ram 1500 at No. 7, the Ford F-250 at No. 8, the Chevrolet Silverado 2500 at No. 9, the Dodge Ram 2500 at No. 13, the GMC Sierra 1500 at No. 16, the GMC Sierra 2500 at No. 19 and the Ford F-350 at No. 20.

New to the top 20 were the Chevrolet Silverado 2500 (up 18 spots), the Dodge Ram 2500 (up 12 spots), the GMC Sierra 2500 (up 28 spots) and the Ford F-350 (up 16 spots).

At the segment level, interest in full-size trucks has seen substantial growth in the short term and long term, according to the report. Month-over-month, the full-size truck segment increased 1.2 share points. Compared to December 2010, the segment’s share of interest increased 5.4 points. And compared to December 2009, the share of interest increased 7.2 points.

The extent of the declining interest in compact cars was evident when looking at the segment-level information, according to AutoTrader.com. While it only showed a decline of 0.7 share points month over month, the compact car segment declined 4.2 share points compared to December 2010 and a full 5 share points compared to December 2009.

“During the more uncertain economic times, compact cars enjoyed increased popularity due to their accessible features and prices consumers could afford. However, that interest has shifted to the larger and more expensive vehicles as the economy has continued to recover,” Wainschel said.

Median asking prices for the most-viewed full-size trucks coincided with their popularity, with the majority showing price increases, according to the report. Full-size trucks that showed notable year-over-year price increases were the Ford F-150, which increased by 4.5 percent between December 2010 to December 2011, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, up 2.6 percent, the GMC Sierra 1500, up 2.8 percent, and the GMC Sierra 2500, up 2.6 percent.

For more information, visit www.autotrader.com.

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