GM Sees Big Increase in Sales of Fuel-Efficient Cars

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The LA Times reports General Motors (NYSE: GM  ) saw higher fuel-efficient car sales in March as a reaction to higher gas prices.

"Combined sales of its 12 vehicles that achieve an Environmental Protection Agency estimated 30 mpg or better on the highway topped 100,000 last month, the highest total in company history."

This represents 40% of GM's auto sales for the month. Three years ago, sales of fuel-efficient vehicles only made up about 16% of GM's auto sales.

Analyst have expected auto sales to increase as employment and economic conditions improve. And while it shouldn't be surprising that gas prices are helping fuel-efficient cars gain ground in the opinion of consumers, the leap is quite drastic.

"One example of GM's transformation is that back in 2002, trucks accounted for 54% of sales, cars 43% and crossovers just 3%. Now, trucks represent just 34% of GM's sales while cars account for 41% and crossovers 24%." 

Business section: Investing ideas
So, which companies are poised to gain on this trend?

Below is a list of automakers that produce or are designing and testing electric vehicles/hybrids. Do you think they can reduce the cost and market them well enough to get traction? (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)

1. Ford Motor (NYSE: F  ) : Develops, manufactures, distributes, and services vehicles and parts worldwide. Market cap of $47.43B. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.33). The stock has lost 15.96% over the last year.

2. General Motors: Operates as a global automaker. Market cap of $40.16B. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 7.85% (equivalent to 5.17 days of average volume). The stock has lost 17.34% over the last year.

3. Honda Motor Co. (NYSE: HMC  ) : Engages in the development, manufacture, and distribution of motorcycles, automobiles, and power products primarily in North America, Europe, and Asia. Market cap of $69.61B. The stock has gained 2.45% over the last year.

4. Nissan Motor Co.: Engages in the manufacture and sale of automotive products, industrial machinery, and marine equipment primarily in Japan, North America, and Europe. Market cap of $43.78B. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at (equivalent to days of average volume). The stock has gained 21.64% over the last year.

5. Toyota Motor (NYSE: TM  ) : Engages in the design, manufacture, assembly, and sale of passenger cars, minivans, and commercial vehicles. Market cap of $149.68B. Relatively low correlation to the market (beta = 0.69), which may be appealing to risk averse investors. The stock has gained 8.19% over the last year.

6. Tesla Motors (Nasdaq: TSLA  ) : Designs, develops, manufactures, and sells electric vehicles and advanced electric vehicle powertrain components. Market cap of $3.90B. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 45.89% (equivalent to 21.89 days of average volume). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 9.27% over the last week.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.

Kapitall's Rebecca Lipman does now own shares of companies mentioned above. Data sourced from Finviz.

Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Tesla Motors, Ford Motor, and General Motors. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a synthetic long position in Ford Motor. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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