Auto Sales Start the Year With a Bang

If January is any indication, 2013 could be another big year for auto sales in the U.S.

The industry is on pace to post a monthly sales rate of 15.4 or 15.5 million following strong January reports from Toyota and Ford.

(Read More: After 'Halftime in America,' The Big 3 Go on Offense)

"We still see positive economic trends whether it is housing, consumer credit etc.," said Kurt McNeil, Vice President of U.S. sales at General Motors. "Consumers have been waiting to see some of these things play out by way of taxes and government spending and that is breaking loose a little bit."

January Auto Sales

  • Porsche - Up 32%
  • Toyota - Up 26.7%
  • Ford - Up 21.8%
  • Chrysler - Up 16.4%
  • GM - Up 15.9%
  • Honda - Up 12.8%
  • Volkswagen - Up 6.7%
  • Hyundai - Up 2.4%

(Read More: Toyota, Ford, GM, Chrysler Post Strong January Sales)

car lot dealership
Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Toyota's Big Day

Toyota posted much stronger than expected January sales with a total of 157,725, pulling within nine thousand vehicles of catching Ford (January sales of 166,501) for second most sales in the U.S. The Japanese automaker has been gaining on Ford and finished last year within 161,000 vehicles of catching the Dearborn automaker to reclaim the #2 place in U.S. sales.

(Read More: Toyota Top Auto Brand, Tesla Gaining: Survey)

Transaction Prices Drop Slightly estimates the transaction prices for new vehicles sold in January increased by $300 (1.0%) to an average of $30,812. While that's down $416 from December 2012. Incentives continue to be in check with the average being $2,274 in January, down $207 from January of last year.

(Read More: All Auto News on

—By CNBC's Phil LeBeau; Follow him on Twitter @LeBeauCarNewsQuestions? Comments?