January witnessed increased sales for America's beleaguered big three automakers General Motors, Ford Motor Company and Chrysler.

But the gains were due less to the enthusiasm of the American buying public and more to the annual round of fleet-purchasing. In the case of GM, fleet sales made up 38% of the overall vehicle sales total of 293,131, whereas retail sales sagged by 7%.

But industry officials hailed consumer demand as better than expected, with total US vehicle sales up year-on-year by 7.9%.

"Most people expected a tepid January," said Paul Ballew, GM's executive director of market and industry analysis. "We got a decent January!"

Far East manufacturers Toyota and Honda also reported strong gains.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff