Based on preliminary sales reports from the car companies, Ford Motor Co. estimated that the industry sold almost 1.2 million vehicles in the U.S. last month, about a 13% gain from the same month a year earlier.
"Consumers feel very good because more people are working, the U.S. economy is expanding and fuel prices are low," said Kurt McNeil, GM's U.S. vice president of sales operations.
There's strong demand from consumers and businesses for the automaker's trucks and crossovers, McNeil said. GM's U.S. sales rose 18% last month to 202,786 vehicles compared with the same month a year earlier.
Ford said it posted a 15% gain in January, with sales of 178,351 vehicles. Sales of its F-Series line of pickups rose 17%.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said its sales rose 14% to 145,007 vehicles. It was the company's best U.S. sales figure since 2007. Sales of its Ram pickup truck also rose 14% and were the best since 1999.
Toyota Motor Corp. said its January sales rose 15.6% to 169,194 vehicles. Its light-truck sales set a January record for the automaker.
"This year is off to a strong start as the sales momentum we saw in 2014 continued into January," said Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager.
Honda Motor Co. said its sales rose 11.5% to a record 102,184 vehicles in January.
As sales rose, Americans paid more for their cars last month.
"Keep in mind there was a 'polar vortex' in the early part of 2014 that limited car sales," he said. "Sub-freezing temps kept many buyers away from car lots."
February will likely come in as another strong month for sales growth for a similar reason as bad weather hurt sales a year ago, analysts said.