US car sales ended the year with a bang, figures released January 4 showed.

Demand for cars jumped by 11 percent in December 2010 according to monthly results from automakers, helping to push US sales totals to a year well up on the nightmare figures of 2009.

In total, some 11.59 million cars were sold in the US during 2010, the first annual sales gain since 2005 and a rise of over 1 million cars from 2009, according to Automotive News.

Almost every major automaker posted a rise in sales in December, General Motors leading the pack with 224,147 sales, an 8 percent gain on December 2009.

The Detroit giant closed out the year with 2.2 million cars sold across its four brands, all the more impressive given that that figure is a rise of 188,435 on the cars sold in 2009 by the eight brands it operated then.

Ford posted a four percent rise to 190,191 sales, making its end of year figure 1.9 million vehicles, a jump of 17 percent on 2009's full-year figures.

Toyota was the only automaker to post a sales fall in December, selling 177,488 units, six percent fewer than in 2009.

The Japanese brand closed out the year, which has been been dominated by global headlines involving recalls and safety issues with its vehicles, with virtually the same numbers as 2009.

After beating Ford to second place in 2009, Toyota has now retaken the third place spot in terms of full-year sales in 2010.

Honda saw a 21 percent increase in December sales and a 7 percent rise in annual sales, while Chrysler posted a 16 percent rise in December sales and a 17 percent rise over 2010.

The most popular automakers in the US - full year 2010

1. General Motors
2. Ford
3. Toyota
4. Honda
5. Chrysler
6. Nissan

Figures from automakers/Automotive News

Search for used cars