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SANTA MONICA, Calif. — The auto market has reached what TrueCar.com calls a "full-blown recovery," with April's seasonally adjusted annualized rate for new-car sales likely to hit 11.5 million units before surging into 12 million-plus unit SAAR range during the summer.

TrueCar.com anticipates there will be 1,010,059 new vehicles (including fleet) sold during April, which would be up 23 percent year-over-year despite being down 5 percent from March.

"The automotive industry is in full-blown recovery," stated Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends and insight for TrueCar.com. "In fact, we can expect to see SAAR numbers reaching and exceeding 12 million as we stretch into the summer months."

Automakers' Expected Results

With projected sales of 85,175 units, Nissan will likely have the largest year-over-year increase (80.5 percent) among the top seven OEMs during April. Also expected to have substantial gains from April 2009 are Toyota, whose sales are predicted to climb 38.7 percent to 175,471 units, and Ford, projected to see sales of 171,086 (up 32.1 percent).

TrueCar.com predicts Hyundai/Kia will have a rather large upswing, as well, with 75,161 vehicles sold, a 26.2-percent improvement.

General Motors will likely lead the industry in sales, with 176,052 units sold, just a hair ahead of Toyota and Ford and a 3.4-percent improvement from April 2009.

Meanwhile, Chrysler's sales are predicted to reach 84,902 (up 10.7 percent), while Honda is forecasted to sell 111,221 units, a gain of 10.1 percent.

Interestingly enough, despite showing the lowest year-over-year improvement, Honda was the only one of the big seven automakers to gain ground from March, as its sales climbed 2.7 percent. The other six saw their sales fall from last month.

It appears Toyota and GM will be neck-and-neck for market share, as both are expected to grab 17.4 percent of the market, with Ford close behind at 16.9 percent.

Honda market share is forecasted at 11 percent, while Nissan and Chrysler are both expected to command 8.4 percent. Hyundai/Kia is likely to have market share of 7.4 percent.

Incentive Spending

Moving on, Toyota — which has battled recall issues since February — is predicted to finish the month with record incentive spending, averaging $2,416 spent per unit sold. The year-over-year increase in incentive spending for Toyota is likely to hit 49 percent, the largest of any automaker.

"Toyota's generous incentives in April continue to bring consumers back into dealerships," Toprak shared. "However, the impact of its incentive programs in the marketplace appears to have diminished slightly in April."
Overall, total incentive spending for the industry is expected to reach more than $2.8 billion.

The total for GM will likely be $554.83 million, with Ford's incentive spending projected at just under $500 million. TrueCar.com projects Toyota's incentive spending at $432.92 million, with Chrysler putting $300.31 million toward incentives and Nissan spending $264.16 million.

Honda is projected to spend $233.77 million, with Hyundai/Kia at $165.68 million.

On a per-vehicle basis, the industry's incentive spending will average $2,800, a decrease of 4.4 percent year-over-year, but steady from March.

Breaking it down, Chrysler is predicted to devote $3,537 per vehicle sold to incentives, while Ford incentive spending per unit will likely be $2,921.

GM is projected to spend $3,151 per unit sold on incentives, with Honda spending $2,102 per vehicle.

Nissan's per-vehicle incentive spending is predicted to reach $3,101, and TrueCar.com expects Hyundai/Kia to be at $2,204 spent per unit on incentives.

TrueCar Names Top Fuel-Efficient Rides

With Earth Day being Thursday, TrueCar.com also released what it considers to be the top deals when looking at vehicles that get combined fuel economies of at least 30 combined miles per gallon.

The 34 vehicles that were considered were evaluated based on average cost per mile. This was determined by adding the TrueCar TrueAverage Price and six years of annual fuel costs (purchased at the average price), then subtracting any applicable current customer cash incentives and Federal Tax credits.

"The study was drawn out to six years and 15,000 miles per year, as we felt those numbers best reflected the current and near term market reality," explained Toprak.  "More people will be keeping their cars longer as we continue our economic recovery."

Topping the list was the 2010 Hyundai Accent Blue, which had an average cost per mile of $0.20, followed by the Kia Rio, Chevrolet Aveo and smart fortwo coupe, each of which had a per-mile cost of $0.22.

The average among the 34 models was $0.32 per mile. The model that had the heaviest per-mile cost was the Lexus HS 250h ($0.45 per mile).

Among makes, the Toyota brand, Volkswagen and Mini each had three models make the list of 34 vehicles with combined fuel economies of 30 mpg or better.

Among manufacturers, Toyota and Ford were tops, as each placed four models on the list.

The following is the complete top 10 as far as lowest cost per mile:

1. Hyundai Accent Blue: $0.20

2. Kia Rio: $0.22

2. Chevrolet Aveo: $0.22

2. smart fortwo coupe: $0.22

5. Toyota Yaris: $0.23

6. Honda Fit: $0.27

7. Honda Insight: $0.28

8. Mini Cooper: $0.30

9. Toyota Prius: $0.31

10. Nissan Altima: $0.32

TrueCar also broke it down by vehicle category, as follows:

—Convertibles: smart fortwo Cabriolet Passion, $0.27

—Coupes: smart fortwo Coupe Pure, $0.22

—Family Sedans: Toyota Prius, $0.31

—Hatchbacks: Toyota Yaris, $0.24

—Small Cars: Hyundai Accent Blue, $0.20

—Sport Utility Vehicles: Mercury Mariner Hybrid FWD, $0.41

—Station Wagons: Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI, $0.36

—Upscale Sedans: Lexus HS 250h, $0.45