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Quick, what’s the fastest-selling car in America?

Answer: the Toyota Prius C hybrid car, according to’s analysis of March sales and inventory numbers. The Prius C, the newest, smallest and least expensive member of the Toyota Prius hybrid family, barely has time to dirty its tires because the Prius C, which starts at $19,000, stays on the dealership lot only about eight days until a buyer drives it away.

By comparison, the average vehicle in the U.S. sat on a dealership’s lot an average of 53 days in March, according to’s metric referred to as days-to-turn; that is the number of days from a vehicle arriving at a dealership to being purchased by a customer. The March list of top 20 fastest-selling vehicles had no higher than a 21 days-to-turn rate.

Despite generally low sales of hybrid cars and a recent study showing most hybrid owners don’t necessarily buy another one, Toyota hybrids are in high demand– and low supply. In addition to the Prius C hybrid, the Toyota Camry Hybrid and Toyota Highlander Hybrid also made the list of quickest-selling cars in March; the Prius V, the larger member of the family of three, was on that list in February.

Another fuel-sipper in strong demand is the Volkswagen Jetta Sportswagen. Volkswagen has been reporting sales of the station wagon have been down compared with a year ago, but it is largely due to lack of availability, especially of ones with the popular diesel engines, which account for nearly 90 percent of Jetta Sportswagen sales. A company can’t sell ‘em if it doesn’t have ‘em.

Spanking new models often make the list of quick sellers because factories slowly and cautiously ramp up production to ensure there are no glitches. At the same time, certain consumers absolutely must have the latest, greatest vehicle on the market. Such is the case with sporty Lexus GS 350, Mazda CX-5 SUV, PorscheCayenne SUV, Honda CR-V (which returned as the best-selling small SUV in March) and small Subaru Impreza sedan. All made March’s Top 20 of quick sellers.

Some companies and certain of their models make the quickest-selling vehicles every month, indicating the strength of the brand and the vehicle itself as well as the automaker’s capacity constraint. Two notable ones are Audi and Hyundai.

The Audi Q7 SUV is always in short supply and was joined in March by the smaller Q5 SUV and classic A6 sedan. Currently all Audi models sold in North America are built in Europe, but because of strong demand for Audia, the company’s aggressive goal to sell 200,000 vehicles in the U.S. by 2018 and severe capacity constraints, Audi is expected to announce soon that it will build vehicles in North America.

The only potential obstacle to South Korean automaker Hyundai’s stunning growth is vehicle availability. Three Hyundai’s – all new or vastly revised models – made the quickest-selling list in March. They are the pocket rocket Veloster, the subcompact Accent and the Hyundai Elantra compact, which was named2012 North American Car of the Year in January. The counterpart winner of the 2012 North American Truck of the Year award went to the cumbersomely named Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, which is also selling fast.

Since the recession and the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler, automakers have been much more disciplined about keeping production in line with customer demand. That allows them to show restraint on discounting; incentives have been at their lowest level since 2008. For car buyers, low inventories and quick turn rates of vehicles equals little – if any – discounts and haggling room on the showroom floor for hot sellers.
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