Auto Sales Beat Expectations

Just over a year ago pundits were trumpeting the death of the American automobile. High gas prices, the recession and government bailouts seemed to signal the end of an era. But, as impossible as it may seem, the new year brings with it good news for Detroit.

Today Ford Motor company announced that its January sales were up 25 percent compared to last year. What's more, General Motors said its deliveries swelled 14 percent last month. Analysts believe that the American automakers owe their success in part to Toyota's recall debacle.

Last year the Japanese giant took the unprecedented step of recalling 3.8 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles to fix a potential safety hazard, and late last month the company released more bad news when it announced it would temporarily stop delivering the eight models that make up 56 percent of its US market. Not surprisingly the world's biggest automaker posted a 16 percent drop in sales for last month. At a news conference yesterday at the company's headquarters in Japan, Toyota's Executive Vice President Shinichi Sasaki said, "the sales forecast is something that we're extremely worried about."

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