| -

IRVINE, Calif. — Kelley Blue Book found three automakers enjoying a position that analysts described as "bucking the trend" when it comes to vehicle depreciation.

While Kbb.com cited overall depreciation levels coming in at 5.6 percent during the last four weeks, a trio of OEMs — Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Subaru — came in with percentages much lower.

Subaru depreciated at the lowest rate, what site officials said was a "scant" 0.4 percent. In addition, Mercedes-Benz and Audi continue to outperform the market, only dropping 2.7 percent and 3.6 percent in the past month respectively.

The trends in slower depreciation are also propping up Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Subaru in what Kelley Blue Book described as a sagging market for used vehicles. Site officials indicated that the overall market for model-year 2005-2008 used vehicles is down 8.5 percent.

However, Subaru displayed its best performance in 2009, increasing 1.3 percent according to Kbb.com. Furthermore, site officials pointed out that Audi slipped only 1.9 percent, and Mercedes-Benz edged lower by 3.3 percent.

James Bell, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book, further highlighted how the positive depreciation trends put these three automakers into prime position for growth in 2010.

"The fact that Audi, Mercedes and Subaru are ‘bucking the trend' in a down economy is further proof that exciting and innovative vehicles are paramount to success," Bell stressed.

"Recent redesigns and new-car introductions by all three of these brands have ignited consumer interest, and the high demand for these cars also translates to better retained value on the used-car side of the business," Bell continued.

Moving onto statistics about new vehicles, again Kbb.com found that units from Audi, Subaru and Mercedes-Benz triggered increased consumer interest as 2009 closed. Officials continued the discussion by mentioning preliminary Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence data from the fourth-quarter 2009 Brand Watch Study.

They found consideration for Subaru in the non-luxury SUV/CUV segment is currently at its highest since the first quarter of last year. It jumped from 17 to 22 percent.

Meanwhile, Audi consideration in the luxury SUV/CUV segment also is at its highest since the first quarter of 2009. It rose from 14 to 18 percent

Furthermore, Mercedes-Benz consideration in the sports car segment increased two points since the opening quarter of last year, climbing from 15 to 17 percent.