Feb. 1 - U.S. auto sales continue to trend moderately higher, as Americans start to think about replacing their aging vehicles, and foreign automakers hope that will bring opportunities to grow their U.S. market share. Bobbi Rebell reports.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL President Obama was in a celebratory mood at the D.C. auto show- checking out the latest vehicles from American car companies. SOUNDBITE: U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It's good to remember that there were folks that were willing to let this industry die. Because of folks coming together we are back at a place where we can compete with any car company in the world." And the numbers for January- traditionally a tepid month for auto sales were generally good. Chrysler reported a 44 percent jump in auto sales- and its first full year profit since 1997. Ford sales were up 7 percent. GM however lost ground after pulling back from using incentives to boost sales. One key factor- pent up demand. The average age of a U.S. vehicle is 11 years. So many Americans who put off buying a car in the recession, are likely to start visiting dealerships soon. U.S. carmakers have come a long way from the financial peril of nearly three ago- but the road may be getting bumpier. Edmunds.com Vice Chairman Jeremy Anwyl: SOUNDBITE: JEREMY ANWYL, VICE CHAIRMAN, EDMUNDS.COM (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We do see car sales increasing but we also see the costs associated with selling those cars continuing to climb as the market place is going to be very competitive and that could actually put a downward drag on automaker profits. One of those competitors is Volkswagon, which along with other foreign automakers, sees the recovering U.S. economy as a prime target for boosting their sales. VW's US sales were up 48 percent in January compared to a year earlier. Volkswagen Group of America President and CEO Jonathan Browning: SOUNDBITE: JONATHAN BROWNING, PRESIDENT AND CEO, VOLKSWAGEN GROUP OF AMERICA (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Really it's a product of a number of things that we've been doing to build our overall growth strategy for the U.S. Whether that be investment in plant, investment in products or a lot of work in the marketplace to make the brand more accessible to more people in the U.S." The next battle ground for these car makers- this weekend's Superbowl ads- where the automakers will spend big to get their messages to millions of viewers. Bobbi Rebell, Reuters.