Automakers took a beating in March as the new vehicle market took a 12 percent dip since February. The market is at its lowest level since 2005. American car companies were hardest hit, but Toyota was not immune to the downturn. General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, and Toyota all posted double-digit declines.

Sales of Toyota vehicles were indicative of specific trends. There was a continuation of the major shift toward smaller vehicles and smaller engines. Cars outsold trucks for the first time since May 2007. The Toyota Yaris reported all-time best-ever sales of 12,953 units, up 83.2 percent over the year-ago month—while the company had difficulty selling its trucks. The company slowed production of its full-size Tundra pickup, assembled at plants in Texas and Indiana. Toyota officials reported that its new Sequoia full-size SUV spends more than 100 days, on average, on dealer lots.

Hybrid sales in March were a ray of light for Toyota. The Prius posted best-ever March sales of 20,635, an increase of 16 percent from last March. Camry Hybrid reported sales of 6,930 units in March, up 45 percent over March 2007.

The most striking fact: The Camry Hybrid outsold the Camry powered by a V6 gas engine.

HybridCars.com will publish a full report on March 2008 sales and new registrations in our Hybrid Market Dashboard.