Even though the 2009 auto industry has been a bleak one, three automakers sold more vehicles in 2009 than they did in 2008. Hyundai and Kia, which are affiliated, and Subaru.

In 2009, Subaru sold 216,652 vehicles, a 15 percent jump from 2008 and more than the automaker’s previous record of 200,703, in 2006. This may have been due to the introduction of two new models, the Legacy and Outback, which recorded sales leaps of 37 percent and 24 percent over the previous year. Their strongest performer, the Forester, recorded sales of 77,781 units.

Kia Motors America announced its 14th consecutive year of record sales with 305,473 units sold, a 3.8-percent year-over-year increase. Kia saw nine months of record sales in 2007. Leading the way for the brand in 2007 were Rio, Optima and Sportage.

Hyundai Motor Company, South Korea’s largest automaker, posted a 61.3 percent rise in September global sales compared to a year earlier helped by the launch of two new models, Tucson ix and Sonata.

So what are these auto makers doing different? The improvement in quality over the last few years and the smaller more fuel efficient designs seem to be what the consumer is looking for.

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