Vehicle sales soared in January, offering a good start to a year that is hoped to show considerable improvements for the U.S. auto market - an industry that has been plagued by low production and weak demand since the recession. According to The Associated Press, sales of new cars and trucks climbed by 11 percent last month to reach 913,287. New models, lower interest rates and improved lending standards and credit decisions helped drive the uptick in January. Autodata Corp points out that if sales stay at the same pace they would reach a year-end total of 14.2 million, compared to 12.8 million in 2011. Analysts cite the need to replace older vehicles as one of the reasons for the increase in sales. This is shown by the rather lackluster state of consumer confidence, which fell in January, according to a report released this week by the Conference Board. "Coverage of the glitzy Detroit auto show at the start of the month may have piqued buyers’ interest," the AP points out. "Unseasonably warm weather may also have drawn some to dealerships … Frigid temperatures can also boost sales because older cars may not start during a cold snap."