Ford, GM Sales Rise, Toyota and Chrysler Drop

Ford Motor Co.'s sales rose 25 percent in January, buoyed by a stronger economy and Toyota Motor Corp.'s decision to halt U.S. sales of eight popular models because of faulty gas pedal systems.

Ford said Tuesday car sales rose 43 percent while sales of trucks and SUVs climbed 15 percent. The automaker also more than doubled sales to rental car agencies and other fleets as the credit crunch eased and businesses started spending again.

General Motors Co. says its January sales rose 14 percent due to higher fleet and crossover vehicle sales.

Crossovers are SUV-like in size but sit on a car instead of a truck frame.

The automaker says it was helped by a stronger economy and Toyota's decision to halt U.S. sales of eight models due to a gas pedal system problem.

Toyota reported a 16 percent sales drop. Honda Motor Co. sales fell 5 percent, and Nissan Motor Co.'s rose 16 percent. Chrysler was down 8 percent.

Toyota stopped selling the models on Jan. 26.

Automakers were expecting January numbers to be up over the same month last year, when sales dipped to a 26-year low because of the tough economy.

January is typically a weak month for U.S. auto sales, but automakers were expecting sales to improve over last January, when they dipped to a 26-year low because of the tough economy. Sales never really recovered last year, totaling 10.4 million cars and light trucks, the lowest since 1982.

Korean automaker Kia said its January U.S. sales were essentially flat. Other automakers, including Toyota, were scheduled to report results later Tuesday.

Toyota has said dealers will get the parts to fix the problem by the end of this week, but in the meantime Toyota could lose thousands of sales in January and February. The recall affects 2.3 million cars and trucks in the U.S.

Ford estimated that its U.S. market share rose to 16 percent in January, up 2 percentage points from last January. Ford ended 2009 with its first full-year gain in market share since 1995.

After a strong December, automakers were anxious to see whether any momentum would carry into January and signal that an economic recovery is underway. Edmunds predicted overall sales would be up 7 percent from last January but down 32 percent from December, when year-end clearance sales fueled buying.

Ford's figures include commercial vehicles, which are a small percentage of Ford's overall sales.