US auto sales off to good start

US auto sales off to good start

Posted: Monday, February 7, 2011 6:01 pm

DETROIT (AP) — Americans gave automakers a confidence boost in January. They bought more cars and trucks and showed a still-fragile auto industry that they were ready to replace their clunkers in 2011.
Sales of cars and light trucks in the United States rose 17 percent from a year earlier to 819,895. That’s still below the 1 million sold in January 2008, before most people felt the impact of the recession, but better than the last two years, when January sales fell below 700,000.
Nearly all big car companies reported double-digit gains for the month, a sign that the slow recovery in U.S. auto sales that began in 2010 remains on track. While the recovery could falter if turmoil in the Middle East pushes up gas prices or unemployment stays high, the industry was happy with what it saw last month.
“January signals a good start to the year for us, for the industry, and we think it’s a good sign for the overall U.S. economy,” said Don Johnson, vice president of U.S. sales for General Motors Co.
Car buyers went shopping for just about everything. Sales of recently redesigned SUVS such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ford Explorer were strong. People also snapped up small cars such as the Nissan Versa and Honda Fit.

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