DETROIT — Gas prices may be lower than they were most of last year, but consumers still want to buy fuel efficient vehicles, giving Asian automakers' sales a boost over Ford and GM in January.
The Honda Civic, which was redesigned this past year, did particularly well, while all Toyota products sold well, Toprak said. Neither carmaker had anything new to hit the market in January.
Despite a recent retreat in gas prices, Toprak said fuel efficiency a strong point for Toyota and Honda remains key.
Last year, high fuel prices drove consumers away from General Motor Corp.'s sport utility vehicles and light trucks, forcing the automaker to cut production. Ford Motor Co. has said that it expects to further cut production in the first six months of 2007 as it works to bring manufacturing in line with lower demand for its products.
Toyota has continued to gobble up market share and in 2006 passed DaimlerChrysler AG as the No. 3 auto seller in the U.S. for the first time during a full calendar year. This year, Toyota is expected to take Ford's No. 2 spot in U.S. sales after its sales surpassed Ford's in two months last year.