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New-car sales in Buffalo Niagara got off to a solid start in January.

The number of new units sold by franchised new-car dealers jumped 30 percent from the year before, to 3,664, according to the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association. This was the first time since 2008 that January sales surpassed the 3,000-unit mark, according to NFADA data.

Among the brands reporting results (Chevrolet does not disclose its numbers), Ford led with 935 units sold, up 36 percent from the year before. It was followed by Toyota, Honda and Nissan. Nine of the top 10 reporting brands recorded increases over the year before.

The sharp year-over-year increase in regional car sales came even before the annual Buffalo Auto Show presented by the auto group in February, which dealers count on for an annual boost in showroom traffic.

While the results are only for one month, they are in keeping with national projections that new-car sales will rise 3 percent or more this year, to about 15 million or more vehicles. Experts predict consumers will feel more confident about spending on new vehicles and will be ready to replace aging vehicles that they had been pouring money into to maintain.

Autodata Corp. said national new-vehicle sales rose 14 percent in January from the year before. Ford said its U.S. retail sales were up 24 percent from January 2012, including January sales records for the Fusion and Escape.

Ford’s 14 area dealers reported a 36 percent increase in sales, and had its best sales month since August 2012. Combined, Ford and Toyota sold 467 more vehicles than they did a year ago, accounting for about 55 percent of the total regional increase in new-car sales.

email: mglynn@buffnews.com